We speak to Iron Guard CEO Tridget, Bomber's Bar FC Dracoth, and Goonswarm Fitting Director Arrendis about the changes included in the Surgical Strike patch.
Earlier this month CCP announced their next round of updates – Surgical Strike – set to release April 15 and likely to rock the meta. In a previous Dev Blog, The EVE Online Ecosystem Outlook, CCP gave a broad overview of what was in mind to make EVE a better and more sustainable place for new and veteran players. Part of these changes include reworks to the current ship meta to offer more hard counters, as well as more “intuitive and interesting” pathways for escalations. One of these was the removal of HAWs for Titans, as well as adjustments to fighters and carrier modules.
This next round, which was announced on Twitter to have been introduced to Singularity the same day CCP’s Dev Blog dropped, are focused on a wider spectrum, but will certainly have a much harder impact on all aspects of the game. Amidst all the discussions surrounding the April 7th article, CCP Rise announced a very swift update on April 8th regarding the new changes. These updates brought a new wave of support and excitement for CCP’s new vision. According to Rise, this update is expected to release mid to late April. “Due to the Easter holiday our release candidate is locked in for the 15th, meaning all of these changes will come in a deployment shortly afterwards. We are expecting sometime between the 16th and the 21st and will let you know as soon as the date is locked in.”
One of the changes rolling out will be to resistance modules, such as shield and armor hardeners, which are being hit with a 20% reduction in their strength. This change is across the board according to CCP. “That means energized plating, armor coating, armor hardeners, shield hardeners and shield resistance amps.” The blog also notes that “the more slots a ship has devoted to resists, the more important the change becomes.” What has jumped to the forefront of the conversation in terms of PvP has been the effect these changes will have on capital survivability. With resist mod ships being 20% less durable in terms of EHP, many FC’s are very excited.
Iron Guard CEO Tridget, who is also one of their FCs, explained, “What is exciting to me here is a combination of balance changes and straight up buffs. This will open the door to some really fun tactics.” Goonswarm Fitting Director Arrendis echoed this sentiment as well. “This is the kind of big change that CCP’s needed to make for a long time.”
According to Tridget, fights usually can be reduced to a simple red versus blue, or “defender team and attacker team”, that spawn from a particular goal. “The fights we are talking about here are fleet actions. Things that organized groups go out to do over objectives.” Be it rorq hunting or full scale evictions, the actual variables involved in how a fight plays out can shift minute to minute. To mitigate some of these variables and swing fights in a particular favor, many groups standardize their doctrines.
“Designing doctrines has always been a balancing act between DPS, speed, tank, and utility,” Arrendis said. “In a lot of ways, nothing’s changed with that. All that’s really changed is where the balance point is.” He also noted that ships and races that have native resist bonuses will be less impacted than ships with native booster and rep bonuses. However, he added, even with this in mind, the low cost doctrines “built around mass of numbers, and less investment of SP/time and ISK” will be the most affected. This is because “T1 ships have a much weaker native resist profile, and so depend more on the modules they fit to give them their tank.”
In discussing their resistance changes, CCP suggested that ship fittings “focused on speed and damage” might become “a more attractive option.” Arrendis agreed with this notion. “I think you’re going to see a push for more of both, in the same ships,” he said, adding, “But at the same time, the mineral scarcity that’s also going on will come into play. As ships get harder to replace, people will be less willing to risk them. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve thrown away hours and hours of work.”
But what about BLOPs fleets? Dracoth, one of the FC’s for Bomber’s Bar, said that while these changes won’t really affect the bombers themselves, it will affect the hunters and haulers. Referring to the resistance nerfs, he explained, “It’s not a huge drop, but it might be enough to stop the Tengu from being a usable hunter for many caps. It could still be used, but more in a cyno-mule role following interdictors or ceptors.” Dracoth also believes that the resistance changes will make the “whales” much easier to kill. When asked about how the nerfs might affect SRP, or as Bomber’s Bar calls it, Obombercare, he didn’t seem concerned. “We have found that people using Obombercare varies drastically,” he said. “FCs will always take fights if they think it is worth it. Obombercare was setup for that exact reason.”
PvE and Logi
But EVE isn’t only about PvP, and there is a very large group of players that are concerned that these resistance nerfs will dramatically change, and depending on the current difficulty, even kill certain tiers of PvE content such as Incursions, high-level mission running, and wormhole-based content. These groups are already reworking fittings to compensate for the coming hit, but CCP Rise urged players not to despair. “Many of you are concerned about high-end PvE viability under the resist module nerf. This was one of our biggest hesitations around this change as well, so we will be watching closely.”
CCP Rise said that CCP is expecting fittings to be changed, and completion times to increase, due to DPS and mobility being dropped for survival, but that there still may be more detrimental problems depending on the difficulty of the content. “If situations arise where specific content becomes prohibitively difficult we will make adjustments to that content to bring it back in line.”
However ship EHP isn’t the only thing that’s taking a hit from the resistance rebalances. Logi pilots will feel this change as well. Logistical support ships rely heavily on a target’s EHP to assist in the survival of the target ship. The higher the EHP, the more actual HP can be retained thanks to resistances reducing incoming damage. With the hit to resistance modules, some pilots are fearful that logi will have a significantly harder time.
Arrendis doesn’t agree. He said it’s not going to be as big of a setback as some fear, at least for sub-caps. “For sub-captial logi, I don’t really see this as making our jobs that much harder. It’s really going to amount to a 5-15% drop in final EHP.” He said that the best method to combat these changes will be for both logi pilots and those in need to be quicker on the draw for both application of and requests for reps, respectively. Tridgit echoed this, but was a little more skeptical when he said, “logistics pilots, in a math vacuum, are going to be less effective by some percentage.” He added that the chaos of a fight often contributes to how effective logi is or isn’t. Be it late rep requests, jamming, neuts, etc., logi already face a rough time and have developed strategies to overcome these obstacles.
Captial logi, on the other hand, is a separate issue. In the April 8 update, CCP Rise announced that the capital booster change would not be universal, but instead apply only to one class of ships: Force Auxiliaries. The update states that, “rather than limiting capital cap boosters to one per group, we will be adding a new limitation for FAX only, which limits(the) number of cap boosters fit to one per ship.”
“Faxes. Faxes are just dead,” Arrendis said. “Not enough capacitor to function for even half a triage cycle without dying to neut pressure.” said Arrendis regarding the latest updates from CCP Rise.
Tridget explained that the change would be a double-edged sword. “This is both a blessing and a curse. For wormhole life, this is a HUGE blessing as triage’s are stupidly powerful. The curse is that small alliances, like the one I’m in, typically rely on triage as a force multiplier.” But in terms of effect to large 0.0 groups, both Arrendis and Tridget agree that the needle likely won’t move much. Tridget said, “this will just be an adjustment of tactics. Instead of having two or three faxes ready to drop, we will just use five or six instead.”
Arrendis echoed both of Tridgets points when he said, “Wormholes, I expect it’ll have more of an impact. Defensive fleets have been able to use one or two faxes pretty safely, and that’s probably over.” The result, which Tridget also pointed out, is “eventually it will be costly,” especially with the mineral changes, but how much so is hard to estimate since the ecosystem is so fluid at the moment.
Faxes aren’t the only capital to snag an adjustment. Carriers and super carriers are being separated a little by the removal of support fighter tubes and the addition of an extra heavy fighter tube on supers. According to Tridget, these are an “alright” change. “It gives carriers a role again, cause right now why would anyone ever field a carrier when they could field a super? The prices are so absurdly low, you may as well.” Some more targeted carrier changes are increases to the Aeon’s and Wyvern’s fighter bays. Fighters themselves will also be getting some small tweaks. Long range heavies have a 50% increased explosion radius while short range heavies have a 50% speed increase.
The final capital adjustment set Titans firmly in the cross hairs. The Titan role bonus to XL plates and extenders took a 40% nerf overall, from 500% effectiveness to 300% effectiveness. However, between this and the resistance nerfs, Tridget didn’t see this change as a bad one either. “The loss of 18m EHP on my avatar will play no part in if it dies. If I’ve made a mistake and deployed it on field in a situation it will die to, I have no lifeline of rescue, no ping-all rescue fleet, so losing that theoretical tank only changes how fast I would die, not if.”
There’s a fair amount that CCP is rolling out for subcaps, both nerfs and buffs.
- All Tech I Battleships – which includes faction hulls – receive 10% increase to base hp and 30% increase to scan resolution
- CCP Rise announced on April 8 that the scan-res buff would also include faction and T2 battleships
- Muninn bonuses to damage and optimal range reduced to 5% per level
- Eagle max velocity reduced to 190 and power grid reduced to 950
- Loki offensive subsystem bonuses to projectile optimal range, fall off and tracking reduced 5% per level and powergrid reduced to 550
- Legion power grid reduced to 625
- Deimos bonus to hybrid damage from Heavy Assault Cruisers (HAC) skill increased to 7.5% per level, power grid increased to 1100 and CPU increased to 380
- Bomb damage and HP reduced by 20% each
- CCP Rise stated that structure guided bombs were “missed in the 20% reduction to bomb damage and will be adjusted to receive the same change as normal bombs”
Eagles and Muninns
Tridget and Arrendis agreed that HAC’s are not fun to deal with. HACs are fast and fairly agile because of their ship size, but thanks to the Assault Damage Control (ADC), they can easily top out around battleship level EHP. The biggest offender, according to Tridget, is the Muninn. “The Muninns, which are completely obnoxious, will still be terrible to deal with, but at least this change will force them closer into web range.” However he praised the nerfs to the Eagle, saying that “their power grid changes (1379) make it so they will be 100m more expensive to have “the same fit” and they are moving slightly slower.” He added that it “Just makes them that slightly easier to hit/keep up with.”
However Arrendis didn’t see these changes as enough to knock HAC’s out of deployment doctrines, or at least to reduce their effectiveness at a very noticeable level. Despite HAC’s not fitting into a specialized role, Arrendis noted that their survivability, agility, DPS, and relatively cheap production cost will keep HACs, and by extension the ADC Assault Frigates, very rooted in the current meta. “Honestly, given the loss of resists on the T1 ships, I expect HACs to continue their dominance of the meta. The ADC needs nerfing. That one module is also why Assault Frigates, particularly the Harpy, are hands down the best all-around frigates in the game.”
The Loki and the Legion are amongst some of the most popular solo or small gang PvP ships because they’re extremely versatile. Because of their subsystem bonuses and base stats, they can fill a variety of roles that make solo ganking and gate camping incredibly easy. Thanks to this new round of nerfs, CCP is aiming to change that a little. “The Loki being able to fit damage/tank/speed is now looking to be a ‘choose two’ option with its power grid nerf,” said Tridget.
The Deimos changes were another hot topic. The ship is getting an all-around straight buff on all the major points outside of tank: CPU, power, and damage. However, unlike the Muninn, the Deimos gets bonuses to Hybrid Turrets. This new buff will make it, in terms of damage, one of if not the strongest hitting CQB HAC, however, due to the cap consumption, still very manageable even with a crowd of them.
Lastly, the nerf to bombs has some of the Bomber’s Bar and bombing pilots peeved. Parcival Watts, one of BB’s bombing fleet FC’s, said, “It looks like CCP overcompensated nerfing bomb damage.” While Watts did say that the hard numbers were still being crunched, the initial assessment is that more bombs for any engagements will certainly be needed, despite the nerf to resists. Moreover, he pointed out that while bomb HP was nerfed, point defense systems (PDS) and smartbomb damage were not. “Before, a PDS in and of itself was unable to kill a bomb, but now a PDS is able to destroy an entire bombing run.” He said that the situation with smart bombs was unfortunately similar. “A slight decrease in health will make them (standard bombs) easier to kill.”
Brawler’s Paradise, HS Miner’s Nightmare
The last big change is the 15% buff to close-range T2 ammo. Conflagration, Hail, Rage, all of them, will be getting the buff, however the ammo type that’s being most heavily debated has been Void. Blasters are the premier choice of weapons for high sec gankers, with the most popular hulls being Catalysts for destroyers and Talos for battlecruiser. Minimatar is right behind the Gallente with the Thrasher, Tornado, and Tempest, however the Gallente ships are the first choice for the most infamous gankers in EVE behind the Goons: CODE. Many players fear that with the buff to Void damage, ganks from players like CODE will increase in ferocity and frequency. However CCP Rise attempted to quell the fears by specifically addressing this issue on April 8.
“This topic is more complicated to untangle, but it is certainly not our intention to make suicide ganking easier or cheaper. While divorcing damage increases from suicide ganking is not simple, we are planning to increase freighter HP while we do some investigation on the current state of high sec ganks. Depending on results from those investigations we will look at further changes if necessary,” CCP Rise said.
In terms of lowsec and 0.0 PvP, however, it’s a bit of a toss up. While Tridget and Arrendis expect doctrines to shift more towards new areas, such as higher DPS or higher mobility, there may not be as much change as CCP might be looking for in this update. Tridget believes that these DPS buffs will allow FCs to adjust their doctrines to move away from “N(number)+1 fights”, however Arrendis isn’t as sure, primarily due to the mineral changes.