A thread about ships

Since this was in off topic a lot and I find it to be interesting…

A topic thread!

Ships!

So one thing I find very strange about the empires and their ship designs is that they don’t actually seem to orient themselves around creating well-balanced fleets and they don’t seem to adopt clearly superior tactics and ship modifications from each other the way capsuleers borrow and cycle out doctrines between the empires and the other factions producing schematics. Why is this, ie. why is the Corax a thing (albeit improved now)? It’s odd to me that the empires seem to one-trick-pony themselves, not really adopting strategies from the other empires when they seem to be working better. Why do the navies not utilize, for example “high alpha” fleets to combat logistics, which would call for a new ship design? To put it blankly, why are the empires stagnating while the other factions and the capsuleers are constantly adapting their fleets and tactics?

And sure, since it was originally the topic of interest, do you prefer a certain race’s set of ships, and why? And what do you think, broadly speaking, each empire is good at doing with their ships?

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Both myself and my corporation have grown quite fond of the Triglavian ship line. They are excellent ships for skirmishing and fighting above your weightclass so naturally they became a vital part of our lineup.

With the introduction of the Zarmazd I can only hope that the Empire continues reverse engineering the ships in order to combine them with our t2 technology.

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I’m sure if a real war started there would be considerable development and diversification. What exists in the fleets currently is the strategies developed to fight their enemies when there were wars. Logistics craft were not even developed until the independent capsuleer era.

This is also assuming that we know everything about what the empire fleets field. They could have specialist equipment and designs that is just not released to independent capsuleers. For all we know there is an arbitrator model designed to take advantage of ECM modules rather than tracking disruptors.

And to answer the second question, I use Amarr and Minmatar ships, since that is my heritage. As for what they’re good at? Well, I find both very versatile. Perhaps a weird thing to say about Amarr ships, but after 5 years in PIE you learn just how far you can push the designs (plus, you have the most diverse weapons loadout of any empire’s ships).

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If you look closely at Caldari ship design you’ll tend to see some common threads. Caldari ships are designed for reach and teamwork. The most basic version of what they do can be seen in “starburst” tactics, where a squad of Caracals or similar ships breaks in multiple directions, forcing shorter-range opponents such as Thorax to chase them. Because of the Caracals’ range, they can concentrate fire effectively even while scattered like that, while the enemy struggles to bring focused fire to bare.

The anomalous thing I see in the empires’ ship design is that they don’t borrow much from each other; each empire seems to focus on its own strengths and developing its own favored tactics and doctrines, moving to counter their rivals without imitating them. It may be that we’re seeing some treaty-level application of intellectual property rights: if you invent a certain system that makes, say, stasis webifiers or ECM more effective, that’s yours and you get to keep it.

It might be that if the Yulai Convention broke down we’d see some rapid changes.

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Organizational inertia. Keep in mind that the Empires’ navies count in the many billions of people and every single capsuleer put together does not register as a threat to them. Well, not an existential one at any rate, which is more than enough to illustrate the point. These organizations are so staggeringly vast that trying to affect any kind of change at all across their doctrines, procedures, vessel design and so on and so forth would be a truly titanic effort expending unfathomable resources and costing their respective societies vast amounts of money… and taking so much time. In addition, they simply don’t have the impetus we do.

You have to keep in mind, they’re not constantly at war. Skirmishes and raids, certainly, but they are not forever at war like capsuleers out in nullsec. By the time a year has passed out in the outer regions, an active capsuleer - or better yet, capsuleer organization - will have seen vastly more warfare than anyone in the Empires in over a decade and they’ll even have been able to learn from the deathly failures of their own design. This is a churning and grinding millstone that will mercilessly destroy inefficiency and poor performance while sifting out the highest performance doctrines and tactics simply out of sheer volume. You can’t not learn and develop in such a crucible.

This was demonstrated when the Empires acknowledged they’d fallen behind in technology, tactics and strategy when they unveiled the Force Auxiliaries.

It’s really that simple. The Navies will develop more slowly, fighting their own organizational inertia and being far more careful when they do so in order to avoid pointless losses in the process. Besides, why would they change much? They face no threats they can’t handle, as the only credible enemies they might face are other Empires who stagnate as much as they do.

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This. Currently navy designs are focused around playing against strengths of their assumed enemies. Which, IMO is quite sound thinking.

Minmatar ships are generally built for devastating, high speed skirmish warfare and flexibility to counter the traditional Amarrian doctrine of staying power and ceaseless laser barrage. Similarly, then, Minmatar ships generally can’t afford to commit into battles-of-the-line the same way Amarrian ships can.

But the navies do adapt - there are specialized variants of ships of known hulls, and for example in recent years venerable Amarr designs like the Prophecy have been adapted for more flexible drone carrier type of vessels, and Republic Fleet has rolled out a few ships more focused on being able to take a beating, like the Maelstrom. And as mentioned before, all navies adapted some of their cruiser lines for basic logistics role.

The ships we use are hardly always the same that the navies themselves use, but more just variants they sell to us for additional income. I’m sure you’ve seen the infamous railgun Ravens? I doubt those are fielded because dumb Mordus didn’t know how to fit them, but that they had variants that were geared for that use. Or pirate ships with more hardpoints than we can utilize? The Machariel, or Vindicator are gimped versions we are given - why would the pirates give us their best toys?

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I don’t know that that’s the case though, Jason. Neither the stagnation, nor the ‘high alpha’ role being missing.

Let’s leave aside the alpha strike potential of dreadnoughts and titans, and stick with battleships for a moment. Why do the navies not utilize them? Well… they do. Sorta. Within their need. Admittedly, the FedNavy’s battleships are the lowest in this, but they make up for that in other ways. All listings, for the record, are the ‘Navy’ or ‘Fleet’ models, not the civilian versions we fly. Numbers are given in standard Hull Integrity Threshold points. (The only items used to increase ROF are the Amarr Heat Sinks.)

Dominix: 2590 volley, 648 per second. Rate of fire: 4s
Megathron: 2844 volley, 720 per second. ROF: 3.95s

Raven: 8452 volley, 1115/s ROF: 7.58s
Scorpion: 6339 volley, 1115/s, ROF: 5.69s

Apocalypse: 4835 volley, 703/s. ROF: 6.88s
Armageddon: 4230 volley, 820/s. ROF: 5.16s

Tempest: 10749 volley, 648/s. ROF: 16.6s
Typhoon: 8717 volley, 1150/s. ROF: 7.58s

Now, looking at this list, a few things jump out:

  1. The Tempest Fleet puts out some serious ow.
  2. Torpedo battleships do, too.
  3. The Gallente are not big on alpha.
  4. The Amarr ain’t great on it, either.

But now let’s look at these in-context. The predicted match-ups here are Amarr/Minmatar, Gallente/Caldari.

So for remote reps: Shield - 6.28s, Armor - 4.76s.
What does this mean? It means they’re counting on being able to apply more damage than the enemy logistics can repair, faster than they can repair it. The torpedo boats still do respectable alpha, while retaining the obscene level of sustained damage, but there’s ways around torpedoes, too.

The really sneaky ones, though, are the Gallente. With the 6+s cycle time of the shield boosts (if they’re properly augmented with Command Bursts, without that, it’s 8s), the Gallente hulls will land 2 volleys between shield cycles. Add in the normal reaction delay, and you can about triple those ‘volley’ numbers for your effective alpha-strike capability. Plus they do solid sustained damage, while being able to continue firing more or less as fast as the crew can lock another target.

None of which, of course, holds a candle to the real King Bitch of volley application: The Maelstrom. The Maelstrom puts out a frighteningly high amount of firepower in a single volley, especially when supplemented by its capacity for Sentry Drones.

Firing a rack of 1400s with simultaneous Bouncer volley, the Maelstrom’s first-strike capability exceeds six times that of the FedNav Dominix. Even without the drones, the volley rating of 11790 is more than 5x that of either Gallente hull, and nearly 3x the alpha-strike capabilities of the Amarr ships.

And then it takes 16.6s to fire again.

Honestly, I suspect the Maelstrom we fly lags behind the Fleet’s Maelstroms the same way the civilian Typhoon and Tempest packages lag behind the fleet versions of those ships, too. The specs just haven’t been released to us, and probably for real good reason. If I had to guess at what would go into a ‘Maelstrom Fleet Issue’… you’d probably see a direct increase in the firepower, like in the Tempest, as well as the accelerated fire rate.

But I think it’s still wrong to think that the navies don’t use ‘alpha strike’ ships. They do. They’re just not limiting themselves in the ways that we do. And for all our flexibility (I mean, unless you’re PIE) in hull choices etc, we do limit ourselves. We fly primarily 2-ship fleets: Mainline ship, logistics ship. Sprinkle lightly with support.

The navies, on the other hand, take a more traditional approach to TO&E. A look at the coronation formation shows this in the Imperial Navy, where the breakdown ran roughly in these proportions:

1 Titan, 2 Supercarriers, 4 Force Auxiliaries, 4 Dreadnoughts, 16 Battleships. In an actual deployment, and not an honor-guard formation, I can’t imagine it doesn’t continue to accelerate there (and I’m sure there were reserve elements held back from that formation, as well). I suspect the final structure for a single Titan Battlegroup is along the following lines:

1 Titan
4 Supercarriers
6-8 Dreadnought
6-8 Force Auxiliaries
8-10 Battleships
8-10 Attack Battlecruisers
10-20 Combat Battlecruisers
20-30 Heavy Cruisers (Scythe Fleet, Augoror Navy, Osprey Navy, Exequror Navy)
20-30 Attack Cruisers (Stabber Fleet, Omen Navy, Caracal Navy, Vexor Navy)
4-20 Non-specialized Cruisers (Rupture, Maller, Moa, Thorax)†
20-40 Logistics Cruisers
10-20 Combat Recon Cruisers
15-30 Electronic Attack Frigates
20-40 Interceptors
30-40 Logistics Frigates
20-50 Assault Frigates
Along with about another 50-100 assorted non-upgraded frigates like Punishers, Slashers, Navitas, etc.†

Point is, they’re not building a TO&E just for pitched battles. They’re working on the basis that their navies need to be flexible and able to respond to a much broader variety of situations than our forces will. These navies have an insane number of ships in them. More than we have in all of null. Pick a target, any target. Fire a paintball out an airlock at it from even 10% of those ships. It’s dead, just from the mass of a small moon collapsing onto it.

They don’t need to rely on alpha-strike doctrines the way we do… because they are so much more N+1 than we could ever be. Imagine if the Imperium were to go after PIE. Would we need an alpha-strike doctrine, or could we use Interceptors to volley them off the field, even in their battleships? Same basic principle. When you’ve got a big enough ‘N’, volley-fire becomes irrelevant.


† - I suspect the Navies retain a number of non-specialized (ie: not ‘Navy’ and not T2) hulls for flexibility, but I’d be very surprised if they haven’t started largely from a posture of ‘Navy/Fleet Issue’ hulls and upgrading critical fleet elements to T2 basically as soon as the technology became available, with T1 ‘generalist’ hulls being mothballed to reserve/refit as quickly as the various economies allow, or more or less surplus’d to what amount to trash-tier or training duties. The reason we see these generalist, non-upgraded hulls so often when we encounter the Navies is… their real firepower is glaring at one another. They don’t really need to care about us.

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True but that’s kind of late, don’t you think? Whoever has the most competent fleet at the start of a war gains a significant advantage if they can utilize it properly. Whoever has “fight the last war” syndrome, loses.

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Maybe, but we also exist in an age of CONCORD-mandated technology sharing. That likely discourages the empires from too much R&D (or at least, from publicly releasing the results).

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