Fixing the Nestor

2014-08-14

The Nestor is a problematic ship, and has been practically since its creation. It’s the least used of all the faction battleships; even the Barghest, despite being in the game for only a few months, has more kills and more losses on zKillboard than the Nestor.

CCP recently announced a small change to the Nestor for Hyperion, mentioned in our Hyperion Balance Changes review: the Nestor will receive a Ship Maintenance Bay, allowing players in fleet to refit modules when close to the Nestor. However, that won’t solve the Nestor’s issues. Its lack of popularity stems from two deeper problems with the hull — a cluster of mismatched bonuses, and horrible fitting problems. Let’s break both of these down down.

Only Variety Can Destroy Variety

First, the Nestor’s bonuses imply that it should be useful at pretty much any task. Running down the list of bonuses, we get:

  • 4% bonus to all armor resistances, per level of Amarr Battleship
  • 10% bonus to drone hit points and damage, per level of Gallente Battleship
  • 50% bonus to Large Energy Turret optimal range
  • 50% bonus to Remote Armor Repairer strength
  • 200% bonus to Remote Armor Repairer range
  • 50% bonus to exploration probe strength
  • +10 bonus to Relic and Data Analyzer strength
  • Finally, the Nestor has an absurdly low mass, allowing it to go through wormholes with low impact.

This hull tries to do everything. It can be a dedicated logistics boat, a split logistics/drones RRBS platform, a laser gank boat, a drone boat; it can even be an exploration platform. The last of these is probably the worst aspect of the Nestor, and deserves a few extra words.

Why Would You Even Do That

There are very few situations where a player would want to use a battleship to run data/relic sites or probe out other signatures:

  • The long align time, and slow warping speed, of a battleship means a long warp to a site.
  • When landing in a data or relic site, you need to move to analyzer range for each can in the site; the Nestor’s slow speed makes this time-consuming and dangerous.
  • Finally, the bonus to analyzer strength is no stronger than a Stratios, Astero, or covert ops frigate.

And this is actually improved; back when data/relic sites sprayed their loot in a burst of mini-cans around you, the Nestor was far too slow to fetch them!

The only reason that a player would willingly use a Nestor for a data/relic site is in W-space, where the sites are filled with multiple waves of Sleepers and must be cleared before you can start analyzing cans. Even in this special case, the Nestor falls flat: in Class-3 W-space and above, the sites have nasty spawns that can easily kill a solo Nestor, while sites in C2 and below can easily be soloed by a Stratios or a Tech-3 strategic cruiser. There’s simply no sensible reason to use these bonuses of the Nestor.

You Can’t Fit Twenty Pounds of Awesome in a Ten Pound Can

If we ignore the wasted exploration bonuses, the ship doesn’t seem that bad: good armor resists, bonuses to laser range (but not laser damage), and a generous 125mbit of drone bandwidth. However, actually using all of this at once — or even parts of it — is difficult due to the Nestor’s anemic fitting options and the relatively weak strength of these bonuses.

If you want to focus on the remote armor repairer bonuses, you’ll have issues with capacitor stability and range. The Nestor reaches out to 25km with large repairers; this is a relatively short range, compared to the 30km range of an Inquisitor with C-type small reps, or the 50-60km range of logistics cruisers with basic T2 fittings. Staying in range of your targets is a must, and the Nestor fights against you here, being comparatively slow; just under 1km/sec with an MWD on. Expect to pulse your MWD often to keep in range, which becomes a real problem, as the Nestor has no bonuses to the capacitor use of either MWDs or remote repairers. Despite these drawbacks, this is probably the Nestor’s sole successful niche in Eve today; most logistics Nestors fit a full rack of cap rechargers, or multiple heavy injectors, and either skip a MWD entirely or invest in an expensive high-end deadspace MWD.

If you want to focus on laser turrets, you’ll be utterly crippled by the Nestor’s anemic power grid. With perfect fitting skills, the Nestor offers a hair over 14,000 power grid. Just fitting the bare essentials for a laser platform – a Microwarpdrive, a 1600mm plate, and five Mega Pulse Lasers – will leave you a whopping 27% over budget on power grid (and this is before you consider an injector, a second plate, or option highs such as neuts/smartbombs/RR)! All viable laser fits for a Nestor either spend multiple rig slots on Ancillary Current Routers, or downgrade their lasers to Dual Heavy Pulse Lasers, with underwhelming damage output and range.  The range loss can be compensated for with tracking computers, but the damage output cannot.

Of course, any mention of laser fits should also mention the lack of damage modules. The Nestor only has six low slots, and it’s strongly oriented towards armor tanking: not only does it have a resist bonus, and relatively low base shield HP, but its slow speed and huge signature radius makes a shield tank impractical. Assuming you use an armor tank, even sticking to a relatively weak four-slot tank – a damage control, two EANMs, and a 1600mm plate – only leaves room for two Heat Sinks.

The low slot shortage also hampers drone-oriented setups; only two Drone Damage Amplifiers can be fit. While the Nestor has the same drone damage bonus as an Ishtar or Dominix, it doesn’t get the tracking/optimal bonuses of those hulls; the mix of short drone range and a slow battleship hull means that you’ll be limited to either heavy drones or long-range low-damage sentries such as Curators or Bouncers. You can compensate for some of this by fitting Omnidirectional Drone Tracking Links, though. and honestly you’ll have very little use for those midslots otherwise; you’re too slow to hold tackle on things.

A jack of all trades is a master of none. The Nestor isn’t particularly good when focusing on any one of its possible roles, and it becomes hilariously bad when it attempts to multitask. Wormhole specialists have used it effectively as a logistics platform, especially in C4 Cataclysmic Variable W-space, but it also requires an expensive fit to be useful there: A-type hardeners and potentially an X-type MWD.

A Proposal For a Useful Nestor

Where to go from here?  Given the opportunity, I’d change three things:

  • Remove one of its mid slots, and add a low slot. This gives two benefits: it allows it to have competitive drone damage with an Ishtar when using a small tank, or competitive tank with smaller damage. It eliminates the current fitting approach of “fill all your mids with as many cap rechargers / ODTLs / tracking computers as possible,” forcing players to make meaningful choices about their mid slots.
  • Increase its base power grid to 13000. This bumps its final grid to around 16300 — enough that you can fit a a MWD, a heavy injector, a single 1600mm plate, and a full rack of MPL turrets, but with almost no grid left for option highs/mids. It allows you a basic ship, but you will have to make sacrifices (in the form of downgrading to DHPLs, using ACRs, or using deadspace/cosmos modules) in order to fit meaningful additions such as extra plates, MJDs, or neuts.  Again, the goal is to make the ship viable at a few roles, but to not give the players everything they want; you want to force the player to make choices about how they fit this ship.
  • Abandon the exploration role bonuses, replacing them with a new role bonus: a 50% reduction in capacitor usage for remote armor reps. There’s very little reason to run data/relic sites in a Nestor, when the same LP could be used to purchase a Stratios or Asteros instead. The player base responded well to using the Nestor as an RRBS or plus-sized logistics platform; let’s allow this to be done without filling your mids with capacitor rechargers and dropping hundreds of millions on deadspace MWDs. Right now, running more than two reps demands use of an injector or a full rack of cap rechargers, even before you factor in armor hardeners, MWD pulses, and other users of cap.

One other potential option, which may be too powerful but is worth mentioning: Continue to deny the Nestor the ability to fit covert ops cloaks, but allow it to take Black Ops bridges, or even give it a jump drive that only locks onto covert cynos. At present, there are only two remote rep platforms that can take a Black Ops bridge; one is a shield logistics that’s only available in tiny numbers (the Etana), while the others have significant downsides (Tech-3 cruisers in a logistics configuration, which have poor cap stability and extremely short range). Adding an armor option would give extra reason to use Black Ops ships as combat platforms, rather than as miniature titans that spend most of their time in space in a POS.

If you’re intent on making a jack-of-all-trades ship, it might as well be good at a few of them. Until then, nobody’s spending 750M on the hull — much less the 1.3B that it costs today — and diluting it with yet another role (in-space refits) isn’t going to improve matters.

(This content was originally published in a shorter form on Namamai’s personal blog, Killmail Archivist.)

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Namamai.

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