[Author’s Note: This is a news piece but also is heavily flavoured with my personal opinion as someone who has a stable full of VNIs.]
In a Dev Blog released yesterday, CCP finally announced expected changes due to come to the venerable Vexor Navy Issue. Announced at EVE North on June 23rd, 2019, the changes include modifying the base drone DPS and adding the tracking speed bonuses expected on Navy Issue vessels. Furthermore, the changes being enacted are to reduce the level of drone skills available to Alpha clones.
“These changes are focused on our ongoing anti-botting efforts, since large scale parallelized farming of nullsec anomalies with alpha clones is a popular tactic among botters.” – CCP Games
The dial-back of overall DPS paired with mass, velocity, and inertia changes mean that the viability of the VNI as a mid-range drone kiter has been sharply curtailed.
“When used as a low-attention anomaly ratting ship, the new VNI would be dealing about 33% less DPS than before.”
(Low-attention anomaly ratting ship is an interesting way to say ‘away-from-keyboard money printing machine.’)
Inevitably, that they are explicitly addressing the niche which the VNI has enjoyed means its exploitation has reached a point of critical mass – whether from botters, or from the financial ease of large alliances, or the impacts upon the market. I expect a sizable number of EVE players will be very unhappy with the change.
When CCP announced that the VNI would be getting a new specification spread, it had been only a smidge longer than two years since they had announced the update of the VNI and Ishtar ship models and effects. Two years is a long time to wait to see a spread of changes that most likely should have been made long before.
The VNI has been a stale vessel for the better part of the last decade – its drone bonuses still included a mining buff; that should tell you something!
Instead of being a front-line combat ship, its pure ISK-making potential and the ease with which it could be defanged in fleets by using smartbombs relegated this beautiful warhorse to pulling the proverbial plough on the farm. Instead, we are finally seeing this beast come out of the stables and get its hooves wet.
While it will no longer be able to field a full compliment of five (5) heavy drones, it will benefit from shed mass, better cornering, and more fitting room to put it into fighting shape. An additional turret and a 10% bonus per level to medium turret damage and tracking speed means that it is able to bridge the gap of lost DPS with in-your-face brawling capability. Great for solo PVP, fun for Faction Warfare, good for fleets… bad for sheepish ratters and fans of kiting. (Get good.)
What About The Newbro?
Said every botter, ever. I seriously cannot think of any counter-argument to the changes that CCP is making which don’t involve a defense of AFK ratting and/or botting, the further mitigation of risk in flying a ship, or the exploitation of Alpha clones for the aforementioned.
Seriously, a 100mn Afterburner-fit VNI with a high passive recharge and decent shield resists could comfortably kite doing 1100+ kps at 50-60 km orbit with drones out and rat all day long without much effort. They were so effective that if you simply orbited your own drones, set them to aggressive, and let them off the leash you’d have very little to fear. In some cases, even from other players.
Obviously, CCP felt the same way, and so has taken action to realign the VNI with the role for which it was intended; stirring shit up.
Will the reduction in overall DPS output or a lack of access to Tier-2 and Augmented medium drones affect new players ability to use the VNI, profit from its use, or have fun in space? Absolutely not. Particularly where those newbros are recruited to new player corporations and training academies which actually teach them to fly their ships. What it will do is deeply cut into the pocketbooks of people who have been exploiting CCPs prior laziness in getting around to balancing this ship.
If anything these changes are a boon to newbros by giving them a ship that, compared to nearly every other navy cruiser, is still a beast bred for war par excellence.