We finally got a glimpse on how the transition from the current Jack-of-All-Trades carriers to combat carriers and support Force Auxiliaries (aka Force Aux) is going to go down. From a dev post by CCP Larrikin:
We’re seeding the 4 Racial Force Auxiliary skills in February, along with skills for Light Fighter Squadrons and Support Fighter Squadrons.
Any character with Tactical Logistics Reconfiguration, a Carrier and Force Auxiliary skill (of the same race) injected when the citadels expansion launches, will have the racial carrier skillpoints refunded as unallocated skillpoints. These skillpoints can be reallocated instantly as the player desires.
If you start training the Force Auxiliary skill after the patch tomorrow, you can reallocate your refunded skillpoints right back into your racial carrier skill so you can fly both ships. Or spend them on anything you like!
There’ll be a dev-blog going into more details about our transition plans for Carriers, Force Auxiliaries and a bunch of other stuff, coming out later this week.
This tells us that players who have no interest in carriers going forward can switch their skills to the corresponding racial Force Aux skill just by buying the skill book and injecting it prior to Citadel. You won’t get your money back for the carrier skill book if you plan to never train that again but hopefully you got your money out of it.
That answers the question of how will players quickly ramp up to the new triage platforms, but it does not answer the question of whether CCP plans to allow players to get an automatic upgrade (read: replacement) from the current carriers to the new Force Aux.
There are three obvious options for an automatic upgrade:
1) If you have the Force Aux skill injected and you are sitting in your carrier when the expansion comes, your carrier becomes a Force Aux.
2) Any carriers with triage module fitted become Force Aux.
3) Combination of 1 and 2: any carriers with triage module and owning character with Force Aux skill become Force Aux capitals.
I’m sure there are other ways to do an auto-upgrade, but the other option is to simply allow the market /industry to deal with the issue. After all, carriers can be reprocessed down to capital components which can then be used to build the new ships. The turn around for the first Force Aux would be a mere ~10 days. Surely that’s a blink of the eye to any EVE player with a capital.
Of course, this leads to another line of questioning: is the build costs in terms of components going to change for carriers since they are losing a significant function in the Citadel expansion? And are the Force Aux going to be comparable to current carrier build costs or lower? If carriers drop in build price significantly, there could be a rush on reprocessing carriers prior to the patch to extract as much wealth from them and rebuild at the cheaper price point post patch.
Personally, for my capital building enterprise I plan to put on hold any further Archon builds after the current one in progress until after some of these questions are answered more fully.
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