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EVE Online theorycrafting and history

Autocannons, Artillery, and Balancing Fitting Requirements

Part three of my series on tracking is being temporarily delayed — some early readers gave me great feedback that I’m incorporating into the upcoming post, mostly in the form of some added graphs and animations.  In the meantime, I’ve got a bit of a rant.

It’s a well-accepted fact in the greater Eve community that the Tech-3 Tactical Destroyers are in need of rebalancing, with the Svipul and Confessor in particular being called out particularly overpowered and dominant in small ship combat.  I strongly agree with this; however, you’ll probably notice that most (if not all) of the really egregious Svipul fits are autocannon fits. Artillery Svipuls are rarely seen outside of specialized instalocking gatecamp fits, or medium-sized themed fleets.  Why is this? The artillery uses a lot of power grid and CPU to fit, so most artillery Svipuls are comparatively lacking in tank or damage.

You don’t see the same disparity in the other Tactical Destroyers; Hecates are equally popular in both blaster and railgun forms, as are pulse and beam Confessors, and rocket/LML Jackdaws.

Also, strongly favoring autocannons isn’t a unique trait of the Svipul.  In fact, the vast majority of projectile ships have this problem; autocannon fits generally have ample grid/CPU for taking extra tank or option modules, while artillery fits tend to be barebones.

  • The Cynabal can take nearly anything it wants if it fits autocannons; you can fit a full rack of 425mm ACs, one (or two) prop mods, a neut, plenty of tank, and all the damage mods you can fit. Artillery fits, on the other hand, are relatively tight. The Rupture, Stabber, and Vagabond are in a similar situation. (The Muninn, arguably, is the only projectile cruiser that actually has sufficient grid to take a full rack of artillery by default and still have ample room for tank/prop mod.)
  • Machariels with ACs can fit nearly anything in their option high, mids, and lows; you can’t even fit a full rack of T2 1400mm artillery on it without a fitting implant or mod, which is why most artymach fits use meta-4 turrets (or 1200mm) instead.  The Maelstrom and Tempest aren’t much better; on both ships, a full rack of 1400mm will use their base grid nearly perfectly, and a fitting mod is required to put on any other essential mod such as propulsion or tank.  A similar situation exists with the Hurricane.  (The Tempest Fleet Issue can do a full rack of artillery admirably, although it’s a tight fit.)
  • Artillery Rifters and Jaguars are mostly a bad joke.  The Wolf does well enough, but needs both an MAPC and a CPU to fit both artillery and prop mod.  The Firetail stands out as a good artillery ship, though.

This is exacerbated by the relatively small set of options at each ship tier:

  • Hybrid turrets get three options each for both short-range and long-range options, at each tier size; for example, Electron/Ion/Neutron blasters and 75/125/150mm railguns.
  • Projectile turrets consistently get three short-range options and two long-range options — for example, D180/220/425mm ACs and 650/720mm artillery at the Medium size.
  • Laser turrets vary: 3 short-range and 2 long-range for small turrets, 2 short and 3 long for medium, and 3 short / 3 long for large turrets.

Artillery has the highest mean cost in terms of CPU/grid per point of DPS, while AC has one of the lowest mean costs. (One reason why the 125mm autocannon is the defacto BNC gun on support ships.) However, CCP doesn’t want to release ships that are essentially incapable of fitting artillery. So, most projectile ships are given the bare minimum amount of grid/CPU needed to shoehorn in a rack of arty.  That same amount of grid/CPU ends up being a gross excess if you fit ACs to the same ship.

So, is it possible to make a Svipul that can be viable with an artillery fit without handing AC users a cornucopia of multiple MSEs, neuts, and damage mods?

An easy solution would be the one used by the Firetail: Cut the number of turret hardpoints in half, and add a double-damage bonus to the hull to keep the DPS in the same area.  The player T3D focus group proposed “Firetail-izing” the Svipul at one point, and it’s a decent suggestion… but I suspect that a better (but harder) solution exists.  Balance could be improved across the board for projectile ships by revisiting fitting requirements for turrets, eliminating the need for such hacks in the first place.

(It’d also be an opportunity to rebalance some of the rarely used turrets in the game. When’s the last time you saw a laser boat with Quad Light Beam Lasers?)

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