Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher Analysis

TMC Archives 2013-10-07

The raw damage that ships are capable of is an easily calculated figure, and has become one of the primary means of comparing PvP fits and ships. This is a logical comparison to make, as all of the qualities that a combat ship possess are directly geared towards applying DPS (ex. tracking and projection) or mitigating enemy DPS (ex. EWAR and mobility). The problem is that often the quoted DPS value of a ship – what EFT warriors refer to as “paper DPS” – is only a small part of the story. How much damage is actually delivered to an enemy structure or vessel is dependent on numerous variables, some of which are commonly overlooked or simplified.

This is to say: Knowing your DPS potential is easy, knowing your applied DPS is not.

THE SPECIFICATIONS

On the 7th of October, CCP Rise released the first batch of information regarding a new missile launcher for battleship sized platforms. This new weapon system is being referred to as a Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher (RHML) and is essentially a sized up version of the Rapid Light Missile Launchers (RLML) currently in existence.
The launchers themselves feature a 38% reduction in rate of fire (ROF) from the native cruiser based heavy missile launchers (HML), with all meta variations being introduced including officer versions. In regards to acquisition and production of these new modules, CCP Rise stated the following:

As you can see, we are going to put in a full range of meta levels for rapid heavy launchers and they will all be attained in the same way you would get the cruise or torpedo launcher counterpart at a given meta. They will drop at the same rates and obtained at the same LP. The manufacturing costs will be between the cost of torpedo and cruiser launchers which should lead to prices that are very similar.

Also explained in the initial post by CCP Rise was a of goals that the introduction of RHMLs was meant to accomplish:

  1. Expands the fitting options available to battleship sized missile users
  2. Open up new tactics for battleship sized missile users
  3. Add continuity to medium sized missile systems

Furthermore, CCP Rise outlined the high level design criteria for the RHMLs which governed their specific design:

  1. Fire heavy missiles
  2. Have a higher rate of fire than normal heavy launchers
  3. Have lower overall dps than cruise or torpedo launchers
  4. Be easier to fit than cruise or torpedo launchers

It’s worthwhile to note that point three in CCP Rise’s criteria for design is referring to paper damage, not applied damage as we will see. With the numbers released on the ROF from the proposed launcher system, I decided to take an closer look at how they will actually perform compared to the existing battleship missile weapon systems.

Author’s Note: If you are already familiar with how the missile equation in EVE works, skip this page.

SPREADSHEETS IN SPACE

The formula that governs missile damage application in EVE is fortunately less complicated and variable than that for gunnery weapon systems. The most notable difference between guns and missiles in EVE is that missiles will hit for the same damage regardless of range, as long as the missile actually finds the target. However, that doesn’t mean that calculation missile damage is an easy task.

The formula that governs this is as follows:

missile damage equation

There are two parts to this equation: a “min” function which essentially serves as a multiplier, and a damage value that is constant regardless of the target. This damage value is modified by a coefficient between 0 and 1 in order determine how much damage from the missile will actually be applied.

A simplified version of this equation could be read as:

simplified missile damage equation

The magic in this equation comes directly from the “percentage missile effectiveness” as there are six different variables that govern the final value. Three of these values originate from the specific ammunition type used, two of them are dictated by the conditions of the target at time of impact, with the final being position. These variables are as follow:

  • Explosion Velocity. This changes missile effectiveness against fast moving targets.
  • Explosion Radius. This changes missile effectiveness against small signature targets.
  • Damage Reduction Factor. An arbitrary variable specific to each type of ammunition.
  • Signature Radius. This is the size of the target, after all penalties and affects are applied.
  • Range. If the target is out of range of the missile, the modifier is automatically zero.
  • Ship Velocity.

In order to properly analyze the RHMLs, certain simplifications and assumptions must be made. All the numbers and graphs you will see for the remained of this article are based on the following assumptions:

  • Pilot skill is not considered, T2 modules and ammo are assumed to have no prerequisite.
  • Example signature radius and velocity figures were taken from the Caldari ship line.
  • No implants, no boosters, and no overheating is applied during any of the calculations.
  • Damage values should be assumed to be relative, or based on a single unbonused launcher.
  • The cycle time of a T2/M4 launcher has been used for the calculations.

With all of the above considered, we are ready to graph our first damage profile.

DAMAGE PROFILE CREATION

The following graphs were produced the show the damage profile of the three different missile based battleship weapon systems. The independent variables are signature radius and target velocity, with the function solving for relative damage. Faction ammo is used for all calculations.

You will see a large flat section on all of these graphs. This is normal, and is a result of the “percentage missile effectiveness” reaching 100%. As the multiplier is capped at 100% and cannot increase above this value, anything better than ideal conditions for a missile is simply dealing full damage with every hit.

While this may seem obvious, gunnery weapon systems have the possibility of dealing 300% damage under certrain conditions. If you’re more interested in gunnery based weapon systems and damage application, I highly recommend you take a look at this article by Azual Skoll.
RHML Damage Profile

As could be expected from CCP Rise’s initial statement of intent regarding this new weapon system, the RHML applies a good amount of damage to smaller hull sizes and faster targets. The effectiveness starts to slowly drop off when fighting frigate and destroyer sized targets, especially when an afterburner is employed. However, this is common to all weapon platforms and not a weakness specific to the RHML.

Cruise Missile Launcher Damage Profile

In comparison to the RHML, the cruise missile launchers have a much smaller flat area, indicating that there are fewer conditions where a cruise missile will apply full potential damage. Although the slope is more gradual as efficiency decreases, small and fast targets are almost completely impervious.

Torpedo Launcher Damage Profile

The torpedo launcher produces a much different graph than the previous two weapon systems, having a flat area existing in a criteria almost exclusively reserved for structures. Additionally, the torpedoes rapidly lose efficiency when fighting small or even moderately quick targets. This leads to almost anything with a propulsion module causing the torpedo to have a very low percentage missile effectiveness. This is only counteracted by the highest damage potential of all three weapon systems.

OPTIMAL WEAPON SYSTEM SELECTION

When these three graphs are superimposed over one another, a very interesting result occurs.

The below graph aproximates a top down view of the previous three graphs, with the colours representing which weapon system would achieve the highest damage under certain circumstances. Magnitude or amount is not shown by this representation.

Before the introduction of the RHML, the graph looked like this:

ideal weapon system distribution before RHML

Torpedoes were effective where the target was extremely slow (<80m/s) or had a signature radius larger than most battleships (>500m). Unfortunately, this combination rarely ever happened in practical PvP situations, and relegated torpedo ships to mostly shooting very large targets such as capitals or structures.

Before looking at the next graph, I’d like you to take a guess what the optimal weapon system distribution looks like AFTER the introduction of the RHML is considered. Have you made your guess? Good. Take a look:

ideal weapon system distribution after RHML

Yes, you’re reading that graph correctly.

Not only does the RHML replace the cruise missile’s effectiveness entirely it also removes what little advantage torpedoes had against slow and small targets. That, and all other circumstances besides capitals and structures are now solidly in the domain of the RHMLs.

Does this mean there are no longer any reasons to use cruise missiles? No, or course not. I’ve made assumptions and simplifications along the way, the most important of which is simply range. All of these graphs assume that the missile can actually reach the target.

What happens when we take this into consideration?

DAMAGE PROJECTION

The engagement range of any PvP ship is an important factor not only to ensure that you can apply damage to your target, but that you can fulfil that role. Sniping ships require extended engagements ranges, while brawler setups could care less about range beyond their scram, etc. The following graph shows a comparison between the various weapon systems showcasing the relationships between damage and range. In this graph I’ve elected to show two different cases:  Perfect missile effectiveness, which would be present against a stationary target of infinite size, and potential damage against a MWD Battlecruiser (in this case, a Naga).

Damage Projection for Battleship Launchers

Author’s Note: The battlecruiser in the above chart falls into the attack battlecruiser category. If I had chosen to look at combat battlecruisers in this graph, the RHML values would be inflated 32% and the cruise missiles would be inflated by 42%

A quick glance at the above graph is all it takes to realize that cruise missiles are the best option in every case except for two: Torpedoes at close range against large targets, or RHMLs against medium targets within disruptor range. There are other interesting trends revealed by the above graph, but simply too many to discuss in a timely manner.

THE ANTI-SUPPORT ROLE

The final graph I have is in my person opinion the most exciting. Although not specified by CCP Rise as one of his goals or design criteria, it would be negligent to overlook the roll that the RLML has played as an anti-tackle platform, notoriously used by Caracals to slaughter frigates.

The last question remains: How does the RHML compare to the existing weapon systems in terms of an anti-support role?

The answer: a 300-500% increase in applied damage.

RHML in the anti-support role

CCP Rise updated his thread with the following information, which caught a lot of people by surprise:

Forgot to mention something important – Battleships with damage bonuses (like the Raven or the Typhoon) WILL have those bonuses applied to the new launchers. Any bonuses to damage projection or application will NOT be applied (such as the Typhoon’s explosion velocity).

This ultimately means that those of you hoping for the Typhoon to become a murder machine will be left disapointed. Even without these bonuses, the launchers have the potential to do incredible amounts of damage to smaller sized ships. Further increasing this potential would be completely unbalanced.

This leaves me in the awkward situation of having to recant my previous position and say exactly what the numbers are telling me: the Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers are very well balanced, and will fill a much needed niche for missile users.

For those interested, my spreadsheet can be found here. If you find an error, please let me know immediately.

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Jayne Fillon.

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