Art by Redline XIII
After the rework of Assault Frigates in early 2018, which introduced the Assault Damage Control (ADC), they have been dominating the meta in both fleet and solo PvP. After years of Assault Frigates and Heavy Assault Cruisers being mostly used as a bad game-balance joke, they were finally useful and saw a ton of use. But there’s a problem on both sides when it comes to this module. Being effectively invulnerable for up to 14.4 seconds is incredibly powerful, and the usage of Assault Frigates and Heavy Assault Cruisers clearly show this. But where’s the skill expression in pressing a button when you start taking damage?
The n+1 damage control
One place where ADCs has completely dominated the meta is in larger fleets of 100-plus, especially in time dilation where the module often fails to de-cycle due to server issues or simply gives everyone enough time to save the victim. In these large fights the ADC, especially on Harpies, Muninns and Eagles, has replaced every other option below battleships, as a heavy assault cruiser is able to tank much more than the other options due to their naturally high resists, smaller signature, and their use of ADCs. It’s a module that increases shield, armor and hull resists by 75% for a duration from 11.7 to 14.4 seconds, effectively making the ship temporarily invulnerable. With this strong of a buff to the resists and in turn its effective hitpoints, it allows logistic ships to lock and repair the heavy assault cruiser before they die to the strong volleys that are present in these large fleet fights. This is the reason they dominate the meta, as it allows people who broadcast for reps late or are out of position to survive anyways if they can press it in time, which is not hard to do.
Netflix and ADC
This has very much become a requirement for sub battleship fleets for the reasons stated above, but there’s a large problem with this. Eve has been a game of n+1 for the longest time. The larger fleet would win – skill doesn’t matter much in a fight where you get killed in a couple of volleys – but you still had to broadcast in time for logistics to save you. That doesn’t require skill but awareness. But with the introduction and dominance of the ADC, this aspect has been severely limited. Before you had to broadcast in time, overheat hardeners and maybe even cycle down your micro warp drive for lower signature, but with the ADC all you have to do is press the ADC button if you come under fire from the enemy and, more often than not, the increased resists for such a long duration will save you long enough for logi to repair.
I’m not saying that the ADC hasn’t made significant improvements. It’s allowed several HACS to become relevant in small gang and solo PvP and brought HAC fleets back as a very welcome change to the stale Ferox meta for sub-battleships. The problem arises when this module allows people in fleets to be lazy with their broadcasts, with their positions, and just rely on logistics to save them. It removes interactivity from both players. The person flying a HAC only has to press one button to survive and get saved by logistics, and the opponent has no chance of burning through the ADC before logistics catches him when it lasts so long. This wouldn’t be a problem, and isn’t a problem in smaller, experienced fleets, where people can manage multiple targets so you can change back to the person who used their ADC after it goes on cool down. But this isn’t possible to the same extent in a fleet of 250 people where half of them are new and can barely manage listening to the fleet commanders orders.
In my opinion, the game should always work to give the player ways to improve, even in a stale environment like large-scale fleet fights. Sure it’s impossible for skill to matter as much as it does in small gang, but it should still be encouraged. Whether it’s heating modules at the right time, or paying attention to when the enemy locks you up, there should always be some way that your actions can save your skin, or a way for the enemy to punish you for your mistakes and the ADS takes that out of the equation.
Assault Damage Control 2.0
There are many ways to fix the ADC in a way that reduces its power while still keeping it and the ships it is fit to relevant in the current meta. The most obvious and simplest one is to simply reduce the duration the cool down. This allows for more options to punish players if they press it and broadcast late, if they mis-time it or if they’re out of position. Bit the reduction allows it to be used much more frequently in return. With this change it would still fill the role of a module to counter volley-damage-based meta with a duration of four to five seconds as it would allow you to survive at least two additional railgun volleys and one additional artillery volley.
The CSM also provided ideas for the idea to work, one of which was provided by Jin’taan and Suitonia. This implementation covers a lot of the concerns and problems I find with the current iteration of the ADC and provides the same resist bonus as the original module (75% across the board), but with a shorter duration and heat every cycle. Each cycle causes the mod 50% heat damage, and if it burns out you would lose the passive resists it provides. This adds consequences if you use this module a lot in a fight and means that Heavy Assault Cruisers will get weaker as the fight goes on if you keep the pressure on them, pushing them into more of a skirmish role. But when all of that is said, there’s one concern I have with this idea, the fact that heat damage can be repaired with nanite paste. This means that if you use the module once and get 50% heat damage, you can repair it for even just a couple of seconds and go below 50% which lets you use the module an additional time, if not fully repair it in the downtime after being primaried.