AFs were trash even before T3ds. AFs have been demolished regularly by coercers and thrashers for well over a decade now.
Been covered before, but the major problems with AFs are:
-Lack of mobility parity with their tech 1 counterparts (this has always been the top issue with AFs. The repping power of small modules sucks ass, once mobility fails small rep modules can’t keep you alive for long enough to correct the situation. Your mobility fails as soon as your pod is loaded into an AF).
-Lack of mid slots. This is a problem shared with both shield and armor AFs. As a general rule, there aren’t enough mids to fit necessary tackle on any AF you fly.
-Fitting. Also sucks. Most AFs can’t fit gank tier weaponry and survivability modules at the same time. I know that as pilots we should have to make fitting decisions; these should be relaxed a bit on tech 2 hulls. As I recall, the retribution has less fitting than the punisher. Wtf?
-Vulnerability to EWAR. AFs have poor sensor strength (vulnerable to ECM), poor lock range (damps), poor speed/agility (webs), and a frigate capacitor (neuts). Due to having frigate weapon systems, turret disruption also works quite well on them, especially range-scripted disruption. In addition, due to range limitations, AFs (even kiting AFs) have to fight in heavy neut range, meaning your cap is likely to get alpha’d out from under your.
Strong fixes would be:
-Mobility parity with tech 1 base hulls. This isn’t asking for another class of interceptor, just mobility parity with other combat frigates.
-Increased fitting capacity. AFs fitting capacity isn’t commensurate with other tech 2 hulls.
-maybe more mid slots; I get how an AF would be more combat oriented than say, an interceptor, but as a frigate, dps is never going to be the hull’s primary role, so some space for tackle would be helpful.
-get rid of the (bad) mwd bloom role bonus and instead give AFs a role bonus granting strong resistance to all types of EWAR. AFs fighting in brawl range will gain survivability (reinforcing the frigate role of tackle) as well as a defining role of forcing enemy ewar off grid.
Just the first three would go a long way to restoring the usefulness of AFs. As it is now, AFs are the can CCP has been kicking down the road for a decade or so; they are even less attractive now that T3ds have sped past and flattened the can to the pavement.