Let’s go back to that Capital Dev Blog from October for one of the more controversial aspects, namely that combat refitting is going away:
You will be unable to refit while you have a weapons timer
The incredibly talented and endlessly creative players of EVE Online have taken combat refitting to its extremes. With some capsuleers refitting during combat from maximum shield resists, to max armor resists, and finally maximum hull HP to ensure they last as long as possible. Currently if you’re shooting at carriers in a large group, whichever carrier you’re shooting will refit to maximum tank to ensure that the remote repairs of its fleet-mates are most effective, while the other carriers fit to provide maximum remote repairs. Bring jamming support to counter this? They will refit ECCM on the fly.
The Swiss-army knife nature of refitting capitals makes trying to balance them impossible. Anything you bring to fight them can be countered in seconds.
After the Citadel expansion, no ship will be able to refit while it has a weapons timer. The fittings you chose before the battle began become a lot more important and counterable. It is not impossible to refit…but you will have to wait out your weapons timer and, effectively, be out of the battle while you do so. We’re considering adding a weapons timer to triage & siege modes…but we’d like your feedback on that.
These two paragraphs definitely hit a nerve in some circles as its a direct attack on a certain style of PvP, one that the practitioners feel is more elite. But before we get there let’s look at how we got here.
In The Beginning…
Now, I don’t have inside knowledge here so this is all speculation and assumptions but I feel it holds up.
When capitals (dreadnoughts and carriers) were being conceived back in Red Moon Rising expansion the developers envisioned creating ships that were not simply bigger and badder super-battleships, but true multi-purpose and extended deployment combat support vessels. Carriers especially were envisioned as a multi-role command centre of deployed fleets, providing command link bonuses, fighter assisted combat support, and extra combat ships and modules with a fitting service to allow pilots to reship on the fly from the close-to-front line carriers.
In other words, refitting was intended to be a Strategic ability as opposed to tactical and this role the carrier (and subsequent super carrier and titans) did adequately well to various degrees. It didn’t fit the conditions to be a tactical ability so well because the sub-caps that were the intended consumers of the functionality would not survive very long on the battle grid.
Like all things in EVE, the massive capital proliferation across all of New Eden changed the equation and soon fleets of capital ships became the norm instead of the rare exception.
It turns out capital ships like carriers have enough hit points to survive in the line of fire long enough to make use of another carrier’s refitting services and smart players were quick to pick up on this fact to start to exploit it, as described in the above quote which I will quote again for emphasis:
Currently if you’re shooting at carriers in a large group, whichever carrier you’re shooting will refit to maximum tank to ensure that the remote repairs of its fleet-mates are most effective, while the other carriers fit to provide maximum remote repairs. Bring jamming support to counter this? They will refit ECCM on the fly.
The problem only gets compounded when you bring in the massive hit point numbers of super carriers and titans.
Also known as Weapons Flag, this flag becomes active when you activate any offensive module (weapons, stasis webifier etc.) upon another player. Some non-targeted modules, such as smartbombs or Bastion Modules, will also cause a weapons flag when activated. Regardless of the Security status of the solar system, having an active Weapons Flag will prevent you from docking in any station, jumping through stargate, ejecting from or boarding another ship while in space, and storing a ship in a corporation or fleet hangar. This flag lasts for 60 seconds, starting from the moment you open fire, and will renew each time you take further offensive action – meaning that you will have to wait a full 60 seconds after the last offensive action before being able to dock, jump etc. (even if you lose your ship).
In other words, in order to refit at a Ship Maintenance Array on a capital ship you will have to do pretty much nothing for 60 seconds except take whatever abuse the enemy slings at you.
On The Other Hand…
At first I thought I was all for this change but the guys on Down the Pipe podcast had a fair and balanced discussion about the issue despite most of them being strongly against it. They felt overall that it was a step in the wrong direction even though they agreed there was some argument that the Slowcat Doctrine of massed remote rep carrier fleet was definitely a problem. They argued that the more common use case (or possibly more common to them) of a small engagement with a handful of capitals using refitting as a skill differentiator/force multiplier was a case of good complexity and allowed extremely skilled players to get an advantage over merely average or even good players in PvP.
While I was not 100% swayed to their position against the weapons timer for refitting purposes, I was placed firmly on the fence on the issue. I still think the stated issue in the dev blog of capital ships refitting to match any need on the fly is a problem and simply reinforces the axiom that “the only counter to a capital fleet is another capital fleet”, but I now share concern that the small gang refitting capabilities add a level to the game that we should try to preserve.
At The End of the Day…
I suspect its not going to matter and CCP will enact there weapons timer limitation if only because it a direct arrow at the heart of the logistics problem facing the game today. CCP may see it as the larger problem of massed carrier blobs needs to be addressed for the health of the game for many pilots even if it hurts the elite game play for fewer pilots.
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