Layered Coatings (LCs) and Layered Energized Membranes (LEMs), collectively Armor Layering Membranes (ALMs) need a rework. Maybe this would involve some other rebalances, but I feel like there is a niche in the game that ALMs could fill that would not devalue the current Armor Plates and armor resistance mods.
At current, the ALM is designed to be a module that is cheap on fitting but delivers a big boost to armor HP. The problem is that resistance modules completely outclass it in almost every scenario for EHP, without even considering their greater effectiveness inder remote repairs.
Even with polarized fits, additional plates are always superior to ALMs, even into the battleship lineup. The quad plated triple BCU TyFI is better in pretty much every way than both the triple plate LEM triple BCU and quad plate LEM double BCU fits.
ALMs need a niche where they can shine while not encroaching too mcuh on resist modules or making ships like the PNI and NAug too powerful. That niche is in solo or small-gang armor buffer sans logi.
For future reference, the “standard” plate of a class is 1600mm for BS, 800mm for cruiser, and 400mm for frigate.
I propose a smooth (almost) doubling of the benefits of this module. For example, the LEM II, the best option for this module that isn’t faction, currently gives only 15% bonus armor. That only exceeds an additional standard plate once between 4 and 6 plates have already been fitted, which is far too much for any useful application, and then you have to factor in stacking penalties with Trimark rigs, which only hurts the ALM more.
If you use it to bolt more armor onto a 1600mm cruiser or dual 400mm frigate, you’re better off just going with resist mods, and if you do polarized at that scale, it’s just better to go with Medium/Large Shield Extenders. ALMs should feel like they reward oversized plates or tight fits, but they end up relegated to being laughed at the few times they come up on zKillboard. I propose raising their benefit by about 2/3, putting the LEM II at a 25% bonus. If that’s too much, make it only 20%, but it still desperately needs a buff (or resists need a nerf, but that won’t happen in a million years).
At 25%, the module will surpass a plate’s effectiveness after 2-5 plates, depending on the type and whether Trimarks are fitted, which they likely will be. This will allow the ALM family to fill a role both as a supplement to big active reps so they can catch easier (think cruiser XLASB but less pronounced) and as a bonus to buffer when no logi is present. This would make the module significantly more used and give armor cruisers and battlecruisers a better chance in the shield-dominated meta of 2023, especially in the Battlecruiser and Battleship lines. I bet some of you Kronos pilots are crying about repping 3/4 of your armor each cycle but not having the fitting for a plate while keeping all of your big neuts and stuff online.
Anyway, that’s my schpiel, should this balance happen, and how should it be altered? I want to make it clear that I do not fly armor buffer ships, so I really have little reason to want this change for myself, so don’t go there.