Over the past few years, there have been various calls to buff or rebalance Black Ops Battleships. Some pilots think they need to be more combat capable, others just want their expensive toys to hit harder. Killboards show, however, this isn’t necessary. Black Ops ships are responsible for so much carnage throughout lowsec and nulsec, it would scarcely seem like they need a boost in gank and tank potential.
And yet, something is missing. These ships, which sit at the zenith of stealth and covert ops gameplay, have gaping holes in where and how they can be flown.
- Black Ops battleships cannot be flown (truly) solo
- Black Ops battleships serve no serious use in wormhole space
- Black Ops battleships are wholly reliant on their jump drives for basic use
Compare this to every other stealth-based ship in EVE and the class seems almost completely at odds with how they function. Bombers, Recons, SOE ships, and coverts T3Cs all excel solo. They operate equally well in k-space and j-space. Jumping between gates or wormholes, they actively and quietly hunt for prey. By contrast, the Black Ops is chained to its cyno scout and essentially worthless in and of itself as a hunting ship.
My proposal is simple: Make Black Ops Battleships immune to directional scan. This bonus, which was added to Combat Recons just a year or two ago, has proven to aid in stealth without making the recipient ships overpowered. It creates a dynamic where non covops-cloak capable ships can surprise an opponent, either landing on grid with reduced warning, or being on grid unexpectedly as unaware reinforcements arrive.
What would this change allow Black Ops Battleships to do?
- Operate as heavy stealth force multipliers in wormhole space
- Transit gates or wormholes, relying less on scouts and cynos
- Set up traps on grid by concealing total fleet numbers
- Become a utility ship for low-profile ratting and structure bashes
With this simple change, Black Ops battleships go from being a cyno-only, lowsec/nulsec only ship to being one that has potential uses in wormhole space, and even for PVE.
Simultaneously, this change would only marginally increase the power of existing black ops gameplay. Since directional scan immunity offers no benefit to a cloaked ship or a ship that’s just cyno’d onto grid with a target, 90% of today’s black ops pilots will be helped by this change. Current blops operations are so reliant on cloaked waiting, cyno lighting, bridging/jumping, quick ganking, etc, that there simply is no time they’re sitting anywhere in space decloaked for more than a few moments. These playstyles gain almost nothing.
What would this change not allow Black Ops Battleships to do?
- Overpower ships it cannot already overpower
- Catch aware enemies who have ages before a Blops can land and lock them
- Escape dedicated combat probers hunting fleeing black ops pilots
- Enhance existing k-space hunting gameplay
Combat Recons have proven that d-scan immunity can aid stealthy gameplay without breaking the balance of EVE. It broadened their areas of use and types of gameplay, without buffing them in a way that gave them significant combat advantages.
This bonus, which fits in with the sneaky design of their ships without the overpowering capabilities granted by covert ops cloaking, would be a perfect match for Black Ops Battleships.