Header art by Major Sniper
Recent industry changes have thrown another roadblock in the way of the battleship, and with bombers making the headlines, INN asks: “What can we do to bring battleships back onto the frontlines?” A normal T1 battleship is currently costing about 350-450mil ISK in Jita. They are designed to project force, take a huge amount of punishment, and give it out in equal measure. But there are a number of issues facing these ships of the line, the main one being their vulnerability to bombers.
Add a new weapon . . .
As the events in World War Bee 2 have shown us, bombers can be utterly devastating. But they are not without risk. For every bombing run that makes it onto Youtube, there are 20 that end unsuccessfully, the majority of which end in a dead bombing wing. So, how can a boost for one not result in a nerf for the other? The answer: a new bomb type and a change to battleship resists.
The proposal surrounds two key changes: adding a natural bomb damage resistance to battleship-sized armor plates and the addition of a new bomb – the armor piercing bomb. Let’s start with the first idea. Weapons, both modern and sci-fi, must follow at least some basic rules set out by real world physics. In order to pierce armor, you must have a massive amount of concentrated energy. In the world of tanks and tank munitions, this comes through the form of either a super-sonic kinetic projectile (or “long rod penetrator” – don’t laugh), explosive formed projectiles (like an RPG), or a concentrated explosion – we call this a HESH round or High Explosive Squash Head.
And a dash of Armor Plating . . .
A bomb in EVE is none of these, yet it has the ability to cause an enormous amount of damage to a battleship over a greater area. Sensibly, weapons that produce a large area effect will have a lesser effect on point targets – artillery, for example: great against soft targets, not effective against a tank. Now, we must presume due to their size and mass that a battleship is more heavily armored than its smaller fleet mates. But the damage from a bomb is still equally devastating. Therefore, we can assess that a battleship isn’t inherently armor plated. The answer must be to create an Armor Plates module. The first proposal would give any battleship mounted Armor Plate a 90% resist to bomb damage. With this one fix, we have given intentionally slow and tanky battleships, with their lack of maneuverability, the ability to stay on grid and absorb bombing runs the way they were meant to.
Unfortunately, with this change, we have taken another advantage away from the much-beleaguered bombers. As with all things in EVE there must be a counter. I give you the Armor Piercing Bomb, designed for one purpose – to penetrate that reinforced armor through kinetic energy. This bomb would have an 80% reduction in Area of Effect Radius (reducing it from 15km to a 3km radius, but providing a 100% increase in total damage. The result: a bomb that won’t hit anything but the slowest targets, but with 3-4 hits the target is destroyed. This means that large bomber wings, with excellent co-ordination, can warp-in on designate targets and punch above their weight to deliver a real blow to an enemy battleship fleet.
Combined with the proposed Black Ops changes currently in testing, this would be a real buff to stealth bombers, enabling them to quickly bridge into action, destroy the toughest of targets, including supers and titans, and then disappear like an old-fashioned U-Boat wolf pack. But they still maintain their basic weaknesses that make them such an enjoyable ship to fly. Almost no tank, slow align, and vulnerable to almost anything that isn’t a corvette.
Bon (and bloody) appétit
But EVE Online isn’t just about large scale nullsec conflicts. There must be options for the individual battleship pilot to not be insta-gibbed by these bombs. There should be a requirement to protect the solo ratter. No bombs in highsec of course, but in Wormhole space they could be especially deadly. When it comes to balancing, there are multiple ideas. Smartbombs could destroy these whilst in flight, and the reduced AOE damage would dissipate as they were shot down. In addition, a Defender Launcher for Battleships or “Point Defense System” (PDS) could be created for a turret slot – reducing damage for added protection. These are all suggestions that could be possible.
It is only through imaginative gameplay changes that EVE Online will see its future endure. This is purely a proposal to enhance the usability of two ship classes that need a boost. Battleships are currently not seen on the battlefield; this is a travesty. As with all suggestions, these must be tested, but with such an intelligent and knowledgeable player base, the answers to our questions live amongst the capsuleers.