Saturday, 30 August 2014

Know Your Wormhole Enemy: Hurricane Fleet Issue and Brutix Navy Issue

This post will cover two of the four of the (relatively) new Navy Battlecruisers. As they are variations of the Battlecruiser hulls that they are based on, I will be providing a relatively short summary for each with an example PvP fit alongside a comparison to it's non-Navy alternative.


The Navy Battlecruisers were introduced in the Odyssey expansion and are created using loyalty points with the various empire factions to obtain blueprints. The hulls that emerge on the open market end up costing between 70 and 150 million isk more than the base hulls; approximately 2.5 to 4 times the original. The advantages that they provide over the base hulls are not massive - in line with the general EVE balancing trend of exponential cost increase providing a linear power increase - but they have opened up a new avenue for lower skilled pilots with flush wallets to get an increase in effectiveness over the base hulls without any additional skill requirements.

Hurricane Fleet Issue

Immediately after a significant nerf to the base Hurricane hull, the Hurricane Fleet Issue was released with the following tongue-in-cheek description;

In YC 115, after much heated discussion, CONCORD issued a decree stating the Hurricane-Class Battlecruiser was far too effective to stay under its current technological label, and demanded the Minmatar Republic to either cease production or sort it as a more technologically advanced craft. The Tribal Council grudgingly complied by releasing a simplified version of the Hurricane, then quickly exploited a loophole in the legislation and began using the original overpowered hull as part of its active fleet force. And that is how, after a new paint coat and renaming fees that the Hurricane Fleet Issue came to be.

Hmmm. Yes. The end result is that most historical Hurricane fits will work pretty well on the new Hurricane Fleet Issue. The HFI has exactly the same hull bonuses, speed, lock range, and capacitor as the base hull. The advantages are slightly more sensor strength, higher values for raw hull, armour and structure hitpoints, and an additional high-slot - though no extra turret slots. This means that the extra high slot is almost inevitably used for a Medium Energy Neutralizer - like it typically was on the base hull before it was rebalanced.

Using the Armour PvP fit in the KYWE: Hurricane post as a base gives us;

[Hurricane Fleet Issue, WH PvP]
1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
Gyrostabilizer II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Gyrostabilizer II
Damage Control II

10MN Microwarpdrive II
ECCM - Ladar II
Stasis Webifier II
Warp Scrambler II

220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Dual 180mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Of course, what is important is what this additional cost gives us over the base hull, and the answer in real terms is 'not an awful lot'. The two most significant changes are the 68k effective hit points tank of the original gets upped to a more formidable 94k, and two Medium Energy Neutralizers are now available for putting capacitor pressure on more cap-dependent ships. As there is no extra capacitor recharge on the Fleet Issue hull, sustained use of the two Medium Neuts will need a capacitor booster in the mids. The extra power grid that it provides allows upgrading either both of the 180mm autocannon on the original fit to 220mm, or just upgrading one of them and switching the 1600mm plate to a Tech II variant, which buys you more hitpoints. Given the tiny damage advantage that the 220mm autocannon provide, I'd almost always go for upgrading the plate.

The Hurricane Fleet Issue occupies exactly the same niche as it's older brother with a few small tweaks - tweaks that I have problems recommending given the massive price differential. Just buy and fit two vanilla Hurricanes for the price of the HFI hull.

Brutix Navy Issue

It's a goddamn monster. The base hull is pretty ferocious, but the Navy Issue swaps the often-unused local armour repairer bonus for a tracking bonus on Medium Hybrid Turrets, allowing the 10% damage bonus that it carriers over to apply much more effectively. As with the Hurricane, there are more raw shield, armour and hull hitpoints, and increased sensor strength. The extra slot however is a low slot instead of a high, allowing either more tank or even more damage output.

Using the armour PvP fit from KYWE: Brutix as a base and giggling as we add yet more damage gives us:

[Brutix Navy Issue, PvP WH]
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

ECCM - Magnetometric II
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Stasis Webifier II
Warp Scrambler II

Drone Link Augmentor I
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Hammerhead II x5
The price of Brutix Navy Issues have been varying quite wildly, but even at the upper end of the price bracket, I'm quite the fan. Sacrificing the plugging of the explosive damage hole and replacing it with a Magnetic Field Stabilizer, then using the extra low for another Magnetic Field Stabilizer, plus taking advantage of the increased fitting to upgrade the guns to an Ion/Neutron mix means that it's kicking out 878dps with Caldari Navy Antimatter. It's 'civilian' cousin can only manage 668dps, and that's with significantly worse tracking. If you want to look at shiney numbers, slap Void M into the blasters, overheat them, and watch the total hit 1082dps - though in practice you're unlikely to see this outside of hitting Battleships. The total EHP goes up by 12k, from 82k to 94k, equalling the Hurricane Fleet Issue fit described above. The ECCM stacked on top of the increased base sensor strength means it ends up with a formidable 51.7 points before overheating.

The Brutix Navy Issue occupies the same niche as the hull it is based on - but unlike the Hurricane Fleet Issue, the upgrade over it's older relative is significant and allows the weapons system the ship is designed around to absolutely shine.

Dialling Wand?

I'm going to be starting a new series of posts that will be interleaved with the Know Your Wormhole Enemy series, titled Your First Wormhole, looking at how to identify a wormhole system class that will best suit your needs, what you need, and what you can expect from wormhole life.

Unfortunately the bare bones draft managed to get uploaded when I managed to mash the 'publish' button instead of the 'save' button when using my tablet - so apologies for the seemingly nonsensical post yesterday that has now been reverted back to draft status!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Hyperion W-Space Changes: Predictions

If you haven't already, it's probably a good idea to read my analysis post to see the basis for the predictions that I am making in this piece.

W-space Combat Meta

I am expecting the wormhole changes, specifically those relating to mass-based spawn distance from wormholes, to have an effect on the wormhole space combat meta - assuming that the changes are not massively toned down given the community uproar.

With the current magnitude of the changes cruiser class and above ships are spawning significantly further away from the wormhole link than they were doing in the past - and doing so consistently. And this is still the case even with the most recent update to the mass-based spawn distance feature.

Although the distances involved are not massive, they are significant;
  • Currently you are almost guaranteed to leave a wormhole within warp scrambler and web range of a lone hostile pilot on a wormhole; after the changes the likelihood of this will be reduced - although not by as much as in the first draft of the numbers.
  • As the distance is based on mass, modulating your mass using warp disruption bubbles, plates, and propulsion modules will affect the distance that you spawn from the wormhole.
  • The increased volume of space that ships can spawn into will make de-cloaking Strategic Cruisers who are using the Covert Operations subsystem harder.
The first point means that kiting fleets will be marginally more likely to work in wormholes; when jumping through into a hostile fleet, more of a given group of ships will be out of range of scram or web range.

Combined with the first point, the second means that a fleet equipped with oversize afterburners, such as 100MN AB Tengus, will be in an even better position for starbursting away from a wormhole link and kiting their opponents than 'normal' kiting ships. I'm expecting to see many more such fleets in use in wormhole space after Hyperion.

The increase in average engagement range may well tip the balance slightly against the current Proteus-dominated heavy-blaster meta.

Fewer Capital Engagements

Due to the mass-based spawn distance when transiting a wormhole, capital ships will now spawn a significant and randomized distance away from wormhole links. This means that if a capital ship is jumped through a wormhole link into a fight, it will not be able to jump back out to safety if there is too much hostile pressure on the field. While this may sound like there will be more capital losses, the reality is that the increase in risk is so massive that most wormhole entities will simply not commit capital forces through a link.

Less Rage-Rolling

Not a surprising prediction, perhaps, but an important one. Given the massive increase in time it will take for high-class wormhole links to have their statics rolled it will be significantly harder for groups to chain-collapse their static links to find a given system. This will make backing up invasion fleets or trying to defend against wormholes significantly more difficult. Hole control will become even more important.

Scouting wormhole chains will become more important than it currently is, and rolling will be used less often when looking for PvP targets. For a given encounter, especially in higher-class wormhole systems, it will be less likely that an encounter with a hostile force will be in their static, and so in the general case it will be less likely that reinforcements will be one jump away.

Longer Wormhole Chains

Due to an increased number of random links, and the additional static on Class 4 wormhole systems, wormhole space will be generally more connected. Originally it sounded like the change to only spawn the K162 end of wormhole links when someone jumped through them meant that this would be balanced out, at least to an extent. Subsequent communications from CCP suggest that there will be a fail-safe method of some kind whereby the K162 side of the link will open after an amount of time, even if someone has not jumped through.

Slight PvE Site Running Risk Increase

There are multiple changes affecting this particular aspect of wormhole life. There will be fewer people rage-rolling wormholes looking for targets, particularly in the higher class wormholes - and those that are chain collapsing their static link will be doing it more slowly due to the changes.

Offsetting this, when a link does open into a system, there will be significantly less warning to any residents before a hostile fleet drops on them. For lower-class wormhole residents the new frigate-class wormhole links may also provide a significant threat; a few Assault Frigates can handily deal with a Drake running sites in a Class 1 or 2 wormhole system and won't immediately die to the Sleepers that are present.

The general increase in the interconnectedness of wormhole space will also result in more links threatening site runners, even if initially several jumps removed. I am expecting a slight increase in the price of Melted Nanoribbons as a result

C4 Inhabitant Roundabout

With the addition of an additional static to Class 4 wormhole systems I expect a significant number of existing inhabitants to move out. Prior to this change Class 4 systems were known for being relatively uninhabited and isolated and most inhabitants will have moved in with full knowledge of this. After the addition of a new static (that will be harder to roll) they will be be significantly more connected, and securing them by rolling the static links prior to running any sites will take significantly longer and be riskier.

After the change dual wormhole-space static links will make Class 4 systems prime real estate for PvP corporations who make their money outside of w-space.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

More Hyperion W-Space Changes

On Friday CCP Masterplan posted on the EVE Online forums with news that as of the latest update on Singularity, wormhole signature IDs would no-longer reset at downtime.

To those who aren't denizens of wormhole space, this might sound like an insignificant change, but it will have a massive impact on Australian time-zone pilots and will be a significant quality of life improvement for all wormhole inhabitants.

For pilots in the Australian time-zone, the EVE server's downtime is right in the middle of their prime playtime (this can be dependent on daylight savings time). This currently means that in wormhole space, any signatures that have been scanned at the start of prime time will have their signatures invalidated half way through many player's gaming sessions. Although there are some discernible patterns for the signature ID changes, it is not always obvious, and so the change in signatures at downtime means having to update bookmarks and chain mapping tools or risk pilots getting confused.

For the wider wormhole community, this change won't be quite as significant, but will still be very welcome. At the moment the first thing that anyone does when logging on is to verify the signatures in their home system; updating the old bookmarks with new signature IDs and bookmaking any new signatures that have spawned. With signature IDs persisting over downtime this housekeeping task will no longer need to be carried out, saving time for hundreds of players and making it that little bit less onerous to be the first pilot online.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Hyperion W-space Changes: An Analysis

CCP Fozzie has recently posted a dev blog about some changes to wormhole space and wormhole links that are coming up in the Hyperion expansion. As they are likely to have a significant impact on the larger picture of wormhole space I thought I would take a post to carry out a bit of an analysis, and try and put out another post in a few days with some predictions that can be disproved in the fullness of time.

CCP Fozzie's dev blog post can be found here and should be read in its entirety before proceeding any further with this post.

The changes form a package, and they really need to be analysed as a package as they all affect wormhole space in different but connected ways. Because they are affecting the same game play system it is difficult if not impossible to assess the changes in isolation, so I will be assuming that all of the changes are going to be made, and that they are going to be made together. I'm going to look at each set of changes in turn, but will incorporate relevant information from the other changes in each section. I will also be (trying) to analyse the changes from a neutral point of view, simply providing an estimation of what the results of the changes are and not judge whether those changes are desirable or not.

Bookmark Copy Restriction Changes

A minor change in the scheme of things, and the least interlinked with other changes; this is allowing players to copy larger groups of bookmarks, more quickly. This won't be at all significant for the majority of smaller wormhole groups, but alliances and less formally tied groups of corporations will find it a tremendous boon; their only method of sharing bookmarks is to manually copy them into cargo containers to move them from the 'Corporation Locations' of one corporation to another. Though this is a far cry from true alliance bookmarks in line with corporation bookmarks functionality, it will be a welcome stop-gap measure.

Wormhole System Effect Changes

Black Holes are having additional bonuses to missile velocity and missile explosion, alongside a bonus to targetting range and a reduction in the effectiveness of stasis webifiers. This will give a very significant bonus to people using kiting missile setups, especially 100MN afterburner cruiser variants as stasis webifiers will be significantly less effective against them. A typical method of engaging cruisers in Class 5 and 6 wormhole systems is to use heavy webbing support to bring ships to a near-standstill and then use the capital class guns found on dreadnoughts to obliterate (or 'blap') them - the tracking on capital class weapons normally being far too poor to cope with the movement of cruiser size targets. This change to stasis webifier effectiveness caused by Black Holes has a reasonable chance of completely invalidating this engagement method in those systems.

Magnetar wormholes are having a penalty applied to the effectiveness of target painters, which will make it slightly harder to run with the "blap dread and web" set-up described above, as target painters are often used to supplement stasis webifiers in making targets easier to hit. The missile explosion radius change will bring missile penalties in line with the tracking penalties applied in Magnetar systems.

Red Giant systems are having a bonus applied to the damage of bombs - but not to bomb hitpoints. This means that fewer bombers can be used to do the same damage in Red Giant systems. I'm not expecting this to be a major game changer.

Pulsar systems are having a bonus to Nosferatu and Energy Neutralizer drain amounts added to help counter the existing large bonus to capacitor recharge. Prior to this change capital ships were extremely hard to take down with neut boats.

Wolf Rayet systems currently have a bonus to armour resistances; this is being altered to be a bonus to raw armour hitpoints instead which will significantly lessen ship tanks when under logistics support. More significantly - given other changes that are lined up and that will be discussed later - the bonus to small weapon damage that already exists is being doubled, so the total damage bonus when in a Class 6 wormhole will be +200% of base, or, to put it another way, triple the dps.

Cataclysmic Variable systems will have their remote capacitor transmission amount reduced, and the penalty to their local capacitor level reduced from it's current level, giving them more local capacitor recharge. The intent of this change is to reduce the effectiveness of spider tanking carriers in systems with Cataclysmic Variables; as the efficacy of the change, I cannot comment due to lack of experience in that area.

More and New Randomly Spawning (or 'Wandering') Wormholes

This item is actually a pair of changes, the first of which is very simple - there is going to be an increased incidence of randomly spawning wormhole links. This should, on the surface, result in an increased interconnectedness in wormhole space, but due to other changes that consequence may not necessarily be as clear cut as it might appear...

The second change is a new type of random wormhole link - one that only allows enough mass per jump to get frigate or destroyer-class ships through it - or Heavy Interdictors using mass-reducing warp disruption bubbles.

This may provide a few new frigate-roam opportunities for wormhole residents, but as many wormhole pilots tend to use extremely expensive implant sets it might be fewer than would otherwise be the case. Where this addition will be most interesting is when there is a new-type wormhole link into a Wolf Rayet system where frigates will be doing three times normal damage - plenty enough to be seriously dangerous to Strategic Cruisers or possibly even players running capital escalations, given a significantly sized Assault Frigate gang.

Second Static for Class 4 Wormholes

With the Hyperion release Class 4 wormhole systems will have an additional wormhole-space static wormhole link. In the past Class 4 wormhole systems were well known for often leading into a seemingly never-ending chain of yet more Class 4 systems, frequently uninhabited. Introducing a second static link to all Class 4 systems will make them much more connected and very very appealing as a base of operations for PvP based groups that typically use their static wormhole link to look for targets to engage.

As this is a retroactive change being made to systems regardless of whether they are inhabited or not, a significant number of wormhole residents currently in Class 4 wormhole systems may find themselves with an undesirable secondary static link. CCP Fozzie has stated that the type of the new static in systems will not be announced and that players will need to identify what the new static link type is by using the test server ('Sisi') if they want to find out ahead of the Hyperion release.

K162 appearance only on first jump

A 'K162' is the 'out' end of a wormhole link, and historically has spawned when someone has initiated warp to the 'in' end of a wormhole link. Wormholes that have not been warped to only exist in potentia; warping to one end of the link is what actually creates the link between the two systems.

This is an extremely significant change with two obvious ramifications.

The first is that people inside the system that is being connected to will have significantly less warning that there is an inbound wormhole. Beforehand they had the length of a ship warp to the 'in' side of a wormhole during which the 'out' signature was visible but before anyone had jumped through. Post-Hyperion, the link will only appear after a ship jumps. This tips the scale significantly towards the hunters in wormhole space, particularly in higher-class wormholes where capital ships in siege or triage mode are frequently used in site-running.

The second is that pilots will be able to find out what an outbound link is before opening it. Currently you need to be on grid with a wormhole to verify where it leads - but being on grid with it means that you have warped to it, which means it is activated. After the Hyperion release, if you find that it is not a link you want to have active, for instance a wandering wormhole to higher-class space, you can just not jump through it, and the far end of the link will never spawn. This has the ability to significantly reduce the interconnectedness of wormhole space and counterbalance the increased number of wandering / random wormhole links.

Mass-Based Spawn Distance after Wormhole Jumps

This change will almost certainly have the most far-reaching consequences for the way that corporations that live in wormhole space operate. At the moment most PvP entities roll their wormhole relatively often when looking for new targets to fight and wormhole chains to explore.

Orcas and Battleships are the ships that are generally used to roll wormholes in lower class systems - and they have sufficient mass (and thus spawn far enough away) that they no longer spawn within range to jump back through the wormhole link. For higher-class wormhole links, capitals are often used to roll the wormhole links and they now spawn so far away from the link that the fastest way of getting them back to the wormhole link to jump back is to warp away to a safe nearby, and then warp back to the wormhole at point blank range.

This change will have two key effects on wormhole rolling; it will take longer, and it will be riskier.

It will now take significantly longer to roll wormholes; on the order of several minutes longer for rolling a hole using capital ships. A well drilled group in a high-class wormhole system can currently roll a wormhole every 2-3 minutes; most conservative estimates are suggesting that this will at least double. In lower-class wormhole systems the speed is generally dependent on how many Orcas you are happy to have floating around in space, but it will take at least a couple of minutes for an Orca to make it back from it's spawn distance to jump range on the wormhole link.

When trying to roll the wormhole with larger ships, especially capital ships, the risk will also be significantly higher. A capital ship will now be extremely vulnerable when jumping through a wormhole and there will be plenty of time for a hostile ship to get point on it and hold it in position until reinforcements arrive. At the moment when a less-powerful wormhole entity ends up with a link into a system controlled by a more-powerful group, they can take a risk and attempt to crash the wormhole link before the more-powerful group can marshal a response. Although the change to K162 spawning time will give a small initial time advantage to the group that is trying to roll the link, the time taken for even a single Orca or Capital ship to get back to the wormhole link completely eclipses that.

There is however a more concerning effect that this change may have on combat in higher-class wormhole systems. At the moment when ships jump through a wormhole link into a hostile force that is waiting for them, they are already at a significant disadvantage; in higher class wormholes in order to stand a chance the attacking force often has to throw through enough capital ships to collapse the hole. This results in a situation where the defenders are at their preferred range to targets, can re-ship if they take losses, can log on more reinforcements, and where the attackers have no-where to run.

Obviously the current situation is far from idea for attackers, and the home field advantage means that many groups will have to stand down instead of attacking and getting completely slaughtered. The new changes will result in a situation that is significantly worse for the attackers;

  • Ships jumping through will no longer appear in a coherent group that can support each other; they will be spread out according to their mass.
  • Capital ships will no longer end up in close proximity to one another. As refitting capital ships using a carrier is a well established part of upper-echelon capital combat, attackers will be at a significant disadvantage compared to defenders
  • Although larger ships will appear at random locations further from the wormhole, the lock times and maneuverability on those ships mean that they don't pose a significant risk to defenders who are caught by surprise if they appear closer than expected.

In the next post I'm going to take a look at what I expect the fallout from these changes to be.