CCP Fozzie announced three more changes to sentry drones in a brief dev post today. He explained the intent behind the changes:
“These are a very specific and limited set of changes that we believe will benefit the game, but it’s important to know that these are explicitly not intended to be a “once and for all” fix for every problem related to sentries. There’s no such thing as a balance silver bullet.”
“The main goals of these changes are to further improve the intra-class balance between sentry drones (smoothing out the progression in tracking speed and compressing the damage spread a bit) and slightly reducing the power level of some sentry fits and doctrines, especially for Bouncers and Curators that are quite dominant in a few areas.”
In keeping with the above, all three changes are undeniably nerfs.
Gardes: -25% Optimal, +66.7% Falloff, -3% Damage, -6.67% Tracking
Curators: -3.1% Damage, -13% Tracking
Bouncers: -3.3% Damage, -12.5% Tracking
The reception to these changes has been mixed, with many players expressing disappointment in the thread. One common complaint came up repeatedly. Many players said that nerfing sentries in isolation from drone-bonused hulls is an inadequate solution. The current changes are predicted to leave Ishtars and Dominixes overpowered while impacting other drone hulls that are functioning correctly. For example Brave Collective member Altrue had this to say,
“While you remove 3% dps, drone boats still run around with double 10/7.5 bonuses, drone boats still run around with the same PWG / CPU levels than other ships of their class, even though they don’t have to fit weapons (!), Ishtars can still use battleship weapons…”
“So yeah… its too little, too far away from the real issue. But at least the conclusion that something needs to change with sentries is good.”
When asked why drones were getting nerfed and not hulls, Fozzie responded:
“Because both the drones and the hulls are problems, and the solutions will involve ongoing changes to both.”
The recent minor reductions to drone hull bonuses and the revamp of sentry drones overall have not reduced the dominance of sentry hulls for nullsec combat. By taking only a few percentage points off the performance of the drones in question it is unlikely that these changes will do so either. Therefore the exact form of the coming fixes to drone hulls, or even drone mechanics as a whole, remains to be seen.
Going forward, CCP can take one of two paths to bring sentries into balance with other weapons systems. The most straightforward is to continue nerfing drone hulls and sentries until their damage and application are on par with large turret and launcher based weapons. However this approach doesn’t touch the non-damage reasons that sentry drones are so popular. Sentry drones require no cap to run and no powergrid or CPU to fit, they continue to fire even if the ship that launched them is jammed, and while sentries can be killed they can also be scooped to safety a couple seconds.
A reduction in sentry damage that would compensate for all the secondary advantages they offer when used en masse could potentially render them useless for individual players. Other solutions are possible, but would involve an overhaul of core sentry and maybe even drone mechanics. Either way, at least for the time being, the Ishtar and Dominix seem likely to keep their leading place in fleet battles across New Eden.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by FearlessLittleToaster.