June 23, 2015

Nerf-Proofing Yourself

Changes to the Eve meta via the nerf bat used to come in big roundhouse swings.  The more recent approach is more incremental but also more constant.  It used to be that newer players were constantly chasing the meta - sometimes by what they saw flying through the void, sometimes directed by their alliances to train the next big thing.  Ever since the beginning of ship tiericide it feels like this has been less of a thing.  But what does the recent wave of changes indicate for characters who aren't already nerf-proof?


The granddaddy of Eve blogs, Jester's Trek by Ripard Teg, coined the term "nerf-proof" (AFAIK) in a December 2013 article.  In that article he mentioned moving towards a point where he had level 5 skills in all subcap ships, up to level 4 specialization in all subcap weapon systems, level 5 skill in every "significant support skill", and all rigging skills to 4.

The idea there is that if a swing of the nerf-bat devastated a faction's weapon system, or raised a new hull to prominence, then Ripard Teg could switch ships appropriately without having to wait for training.  Characters who just now chased their way up to perfect Ishtar and Sentry Drone skills know that pain.

This is understandably a critical characteristic for those playing at a high level of performance.  In Longinus Spear's recent article "Some Tips and best practices to get your Wspace group up to snuff" he fairly casually mentions that your Wspace group should have a number of fits ready to go including an armor, a shield doctrine, oh and make sure you can fly a Blackbird.  This is needed to be able to handle the different kinds of wormhole ops, but you'll see similar things in other areas of space when group want to quickly jump in a particular doctrine to counter what the enemy is seen (or expected) to have.  Spear's is just one application of that.

Now Spear is not the kind of WH guy who is "T3 or go home" and has often spoken of having fun in T1 ships in wormholes.  His move over to Nova Haven recently certainly will also build up his credentials with low-skill-point players.  But as someone who talks with newer players regularly, just getting multiple racial cruisers (and their attendant tank and weapon systems) up to reasonable levels can be intimidating.

Corporation Focus

By contrast, Aideron focuses its new pilots with a drone-centric Gallente-doctrine approach.  Pilots can much more quickly get to a good level of capability by focusing on what's needed to fly our Rogue Squadron doctrine that focuses on armor-tanking, primary dps from drones, and secondary dps primarily from blasters. In the graphic linked for Rogue Squadron you see that getting into the Vexor doctrine is still 100+ days out for the new pilot (depending on implants).  That's a long time for a newbro - so the pattern gets them into a series of useful ships along the way with the T2 Tristan inside a month.

Another positive side here is that day-for-day this focused approach leads to a coherent fleet of pilots who can all contribute.  The alternative I see around is either the elite player approach: "today we're going to do Zealots and Guardians and if you can't fly that I guess you can fly tackle" or the kitchen-sink approach such as described in Kirith's recent blog on our fights with Operation Meatshield.

The negative side is that nerfs can smack your entire corp/alliance around.  I remember reading TMDC and CZ posts from a year ago (maybe more) where entire null alliances suddenly told their people to start training towards a Megathron - no wait, scratch that, switch to training towards Malestrom and from their to Naglfar.  Ouch.  Brave probably felt this earlier this year after training their folks into the Moa / Eagle path, just to have medium rails get a whack from the nerf bat.

But these are more love-taps from the nerf bat compared to the nerfs of history that raised up and then destroyed hulls like the Hurricane and the Drake.

Return to the nerf-proofing

I think most pilots are better off picking a goal range and focusing on it rather than chasing a meta.  Something like Aideron's Rogue Squadron keeps everyone engaged and valuable.  In my opinion once you hit cruisers you should start looking at branching out.  I started the game at the right time to train Battlecruisers right before they were split into racial groups, and I got a bit into the Battleship range from my HS missioning days but haven't flown one since.  The only use I get out of that is for large hybrids for a Talos - and that's not something we pull out often either.  Until Battlecruisers get a serious rebalance there's not that much reason to stretch up to them, though at least there isn't a new weapon system level to learn there.

Instead, start working on nerf-proofing yourself.  If you already have the core skills down then stretching into neighboring factors will go pretty quick.  If you've trained Gallente then move to Amarr to keep with the armor tank of your corp and all you need to pick up is the lasers.  If you've trained Minmatar then stretch over to Caldari, round out any missile skills and start on hybrids.  As you move into other factions you'll gain access to pirate faction ships that may be the meta of the day (or the day to come), as well as insulation against weapon systems rising and falling.

For myself, I've been focusing on things in the sub-Battleship range, though Gallente Battleship 5 is a backdrop in my skill queue.  I'm think now that I should round out my missile skills as the missiles get buffed and the drones I run with now get a bit of the nerf-bat.  This will make the Worm/Gila pattern a good middle step while opening up missile-focused ships as a possibility for what little PVE I do.

Of course, all that will pause once the Hecate lands, but that's a different story...


  1. My main is nearing the 100m sp mark and still can't use T2 lasers or artillery or any T2 amarr/minmatar/gallente hull (except for destoryer/BC :)

    I started training up to bigger hulls and as many injected skills as possible taking a very broad approach at the start and since the release of Isis I spent most of my time training up existing skills to rank 4. (currently 222 skills at 4 out of 333 total)

    1. I'm curious on this. I'm just shy of 70m and I can cover all races up to/including BC, with T2 weapons in all turrets and almost all T2 hulls, so I'm guessing that you've got 30m+ skill points in non-ship-based skills like industry/trade/leadership or the like? Or did you move up the Caldari line into capitals?

    2. Caldari subcap only (except orca/freighter), although I am pretty close to getting all T2 weapon systems since I trained the prerequisites recently. And to get T2 non-caldari ships I only have to train that racial ship skill from 4 to 5.

      I consider leadership skills combat related since they can give a substantial bonus. Even corp management is combat related since it allows for gunnery skills. And Cybernetics allows for implants that improve combat performance.


    3. Yeah, I was debating how to phrase that. I started to say "PVP skills" but that isn't quite it, "combat skills" wasn't right either. On the corp management side I see what you mean with the POS gunner skills. Looking at your Eveboard I see you've taken a solid "everything to 4" approach.

      Doesn't it make you nervous to have that eveboard up, particularly showing those implants? Or is that a highsec clone that you hop out of when you're heading into a more combat-oriented situation?

    4. That is a high sec clone and I jump down to a basic one for anything that includes bubbles or (smart)bombs but you are right that I should hide my implant status.

      It did help once when my pod with only +3's was caught to lower the ransom price but since my clone is now pretty pimped it might be best to hide it again.

      I have no issue with anyone able to see all my skills. Just as I am not hiding any of my alts in anonimity.