BB64: Torpedo! Torpedo! Torpedo!
With the Aegis release we will see missile boats get their own version of the tracking enhancer and the tracking computer. On the forums there have been calls for new 'missile defence eWar' to counter these new modules. Is this needed? Are smartbomb 'firewalls' enough? Do defender missiles need an overhaul to make them actually worth using? Do we need the missile version of the remote tracking disruptor? Or do we go all Star Trek and have Point-Defence Phaser Banks? Banter on!
Firewalls and Missiles
Let's start with the one I find most intriguing. I'll admit I hadn't heard of firewalling before the recent discussions, but I love it. I'm a pilot with very limited missile-skills, operating in a space where our numbers are generally small enough that peeling someone off to smart-bomb missiles would be an unacceptable reducing in fleet firepower. We don't tend to move closely anchored to an FC, nor do our opponents, so the missiles wouldn't be consistently coming from one direction from far enough for this tactic to even work. But I love it. Anytime that a smaller group, better organized, with better tactics, can defeat a larger group by their own cleverness - that's the kind of thing that I like about Eve.
Now if the larger-fleet kind of world where T3s and faction battleships and such move on anchors and fire missiles in a narrow band - I get that it could nullify a whole branch of fleet possibilities if firewalling was too effective. That's exactly the kind of thing that I'm glad balance-minded designers like Rise and Fozzie would have an eye (and an ear) out for. The idea of tuning missiles and their resistances seems to make sense. Even if now that just means you park a Nestor in the middle of your firewall to refit off of. So go for it out there, it doesn't really impact my game play but I'm glad they're keeping the meta moving.
Small Gangs and MissilesNow I've heard complaints about the balance of missiles out there, but I've died to enough Hookbills and Caracals that I'm not terribly convinced that missiles are in a bad place. Yes, the missiles are different from turrets in their delayed but guaranteed application, if reduced by combinations of speed and sig radius. Great, carry on, I'd rather have a different weapon type than just a new combination of optimal, falloff, rate of fire, and damage type.
I'm pretty convinced by the argument that giving up a valuable slot (particularly low-slots which are typically rare on missile ships) to tweak the values of application should be a nice tradeoff. I don't think we're suddenly going to see the meta dominated by the few Amarr missile ships that have those low slots to spare, either.
However, I do understand the frustration that tracking disruption only matters for turrets, leaving people with reason to turn away from fights with missile ships if their fit includes a TD. All of the other ewar could plausibly be used on a missile-using target (yes, even cap warfare) but the TD is just useless. I've mentioned in my last blog about the bad design that leads to there not being a reasonably counter to ECM, and I'd say this falls in a similar place.
Defender Missiles and Point-DefenseDrackarn mentions defender missiles (and point-defense). This seems like a real missed opportunity. There's a firewalling system built into the game - it just doesn't work. Any time there is a module already in the game that isn't working, and a need that isn't being met - well, that's just peanut butter meets chocolate, right? Overhauling Defender Missiles (and Friend or Foe missiles) seems like a natural thing to include in this rebalancing pass.
This could be very interesting as a fitting and ammo choice. Consider if Defender missiles would attack any incoming hostile missiles, not just ones at you. Should your fleet load up your utility slots with unbonused missile launchers, ready to switch to Defender missiles if under long-range missile attack, or to FoF if being jammed at range?
As for Point Defense, I wouldn't like it offhand for the same reason I don't like ECCM as it stands - it would have no value unless it's specific circumstances were triggered. Now the idea reminds me of WWII battleships with banks of guns ranging from the massive 18" guns to the secondary batteries to the anti-aircraft batteries. That invokes a potential for a new view of capital ships which might have two bands of high slots: one band of XL weapons plus perhaps one band of M weapons. That would make the capitals/super-capitals useful for a broader range of fighting - but that's also another topic for another blog or blog banter.