Nearly two weeks ago, CCP announced a new class of cruiser intended to assist fleet commanders as part of its March balance update. The “Monitor,” the first in the class of “Flag Cruisers,” is intended to give FCs a new option for a ship that has high survivability to withstand being specifically singled out and targeted, a practice known in PvP circles as “headshotting.” Destroying an FC can limit their ability to command, and thus can lead to the defeat of a fleet. Flag Cruisers would boast the the signature radius of a frigate on a cruiser platform, an extreme amount of resistance tanking, and the ability to fit propulsion modules at a 99% reduction in CPU and power grid costs. In return for this high survivability, the Flag Cruiser would not have any offensive capability.
Responses to the new ship were divided, but out of the feedback received, CCP took notice primarily of requests for the ability to probe down targets, and requests for the ability to appear on killmails. In a response on the official forum discussion, CCP Fozzie announced that in its current iteration, the Monitor will now have one high slot (it originally had none), and an additional midslot (four now, instead of three). It will also gain a 99% reduction in fitting costs for scanner probe launchers, and for fitting target painters. The target painters would come with a 300% range increase but with a 99% reduction in effectiveness. Finally, the Monitor gains a small ammo bay, allowing for it to carry a small amount of ammo for guns.
Initial reactions to the changes remain largely ambivalent. Imperium veteran FC Dirk Stetille commented that the with these changes, the ship is now “vaguely viable for some things.” One post in the response thread comments that the “ever growing list of limits and special cases scream that it’s wrong.” It certainly seems to be a lot of effort put into solving a problem that very few people seemed to think needed solved, with decapitation strikes on enemy leadership being a long venerated tactic in military operations in and out of games.
Still, the changes are encouraging, as it demonstrates that CCP is listening to feedback and taking into consideration the opinions of the people for whom the ship is actually being designed. Whether the Flag Cruiser class becomes a staple of fleet warfare in the near future or forever a niche piece used by novice FCs and gimmick fleets is yet to be seen. In either case, player feedback is being heard and being used to shape this and other changes in the upcoming patch.