TL;DR: Constant capital unbalance is a result of inconsistent progression from subcapitals to capitals. This improper progression includes follow-on effects that further widen the gap between the two ship categories. Overall, this makes balance between capitals and subcapitals almost arbitrary and extremely delicate at the same time.
Hello, welcome to another of the numerous capital-related posts here on the forums. Today I aim to to expand the conversation by bringing up a trend in ship balance that has been brought up once before, but I believe to be the core issue that needs further addressing. Also, work is slow today and the only real entertainment this computer has is Excel (yay…) so I did some math.
I won’t comment much on the upcoming changes as I’m sure there is plenty of speculation out there. That being said, while the focus of this post is to address the problem more than a particular solution, I will bring up some potential solutions to help illustrate my message.
So let’s get started…
Inconsistent Progression: ”THE GAP”
Some ship stats (HP/Damage/Capacitor/etc) do not progress consistently from subcapitals to capitals.
Here is where I believe it all begins. There are a few other possible culprits, but this one is particularly annoying in how it interacts with other factors. In 2015, before the major capital rebalance, a presentation was given that illustrated how vast a gap there was between capitals and subcapitals:
This graph was given just after a slide promising a “Complete Rebalance of HP & and Damage”.
While I didn’t go so far as to calculate EHP, here is a graph showing the current raw HP comparisons in a similar manner:
The overall EHP numbers have changed, but clearly it didn’t do much noticeable change for most people in the end.
Here is the difference in all average raw HP between the different classes by percentage increase from the previous tier.
- Only includes T1 Empire ships (no faction or ORE)
- Attack Battlecruisers excluded
- Titans and Supercarriers (SC) are separately displayed for illustration.
There is quite a bit more detailed sheet I can share later if you’re interested.
While we don’t have much more than 6-9 classes to compare, it’s fairly obvious that somewhere between BS and Capital quite a few extra zeroes were added. Also note that when excluding carriers, the difference is somewhat greater as carriers typically have 25-33% less HP than Dread/FAX.
BS >> Carrier = +836% BS >> Dread/FAX = +1296%
That first 1142% jump is exactly where I feel the problem lies. Whether it is the cause or the result of something else, you can see a similar trend across some other key stats as well. Capacitor pools experience a 978% increase across the same boundary. It is specifically because of this massive leap that the relationship of balancing capitals against each other AND balancing against subcaps is such a difficult task. Without making special cases and non-organic rules, one relationship is made healthy while the other is made sour.
Having looked at a number of ways to mix and match the classes together to see how different they are the biggest differences to be found are between the major ships classes: Frigate, Cruiser, and BS. The highest I could get without jumping more than 2 sizes up was the increase from FrigateDestroyer vs Cruiser/BC at 408%. Even in an odd comparison like that, we still have a situation where capitals are way over the trend in size.
To put in perspective, the relationship in HP between BS and capitals is closest to that of Frigates and Battlecruisers. Furthermore, if we look at some more extreme comparisons, we see how the gap has greater effects as progression distance increases:
Frigate >> BS = +1927% BS >> SC = +4558% BS >> Titan = +5909%
As you can see, this tier gap to supers is immense. Based on the progression trends of subcapitals, Capitals aren’t just a single step or two steps above BS. Capitals are entirely in their own realm of reference. The second order effects of extreme stats like capital HP also tend to be what either makes them seem broken or overpowered from the outside.
All that being said, there are some reasons why capitals have these stats and why they keep them. I’m not going to delve to much into the history of it. All that really needs to be said is that it all started around structures like POSes and then Sov and outposts. All of those systems have either radically changed or are shortly going to be removed. So the current state of capitals has some freedom to move where it needs to be without those considerations.
So what now? Do we even need to do anything at all?
With capitals so far removed from the rest of the ship tree, what to do about them basically boils down to what we want to do with them. They could easily remain in their current relative state or be victims of balance change.
It is my opinion that The Gap does needs to be dealt with. As it stands, the ship tree as a whole remains unhealthy so long as capitals remain so far toward the top.
In my view, We can no longer pretend capitals are rare or limited or that the proliferation of capitals can be reversed. We need to consider Capital balance With similar interaction considerations that we give to subcapitals. There need to be holes in capability that other ships can take advantage of with relative efficiency, especially in regards to how other capitals and BS can get involved. I’ll consider capitals to be in a healthy place when their relationship with other capitals and BS looks much more like that of any given Disposition of Cruisers, BCs, and BSs.
Sidenote: I have been referring to Capitals and Supercapitals simply combined as “Capitals”. This next part, when I reference Capitals, I am no longer including Supercapitals.
There are numerous options to accomplish a better ecosystem. I’ll list a few of my favorites here with some explanation. I won’t go into great detail at the moment.
- Option #1: Closing The Gap
- Option #2: Filling The Gap
Option #1: Closing The Gap
This one is pretty straightforward: Nerf the ■■■■ out of Capitals and Supers until the gap is no longer out of line with normal progression.
This method will likely take multiple passes to get right. Bring down/up the most extreme stats incrementally until they reach an acceptable level of relative power and vulnerability to one another. Admittedly it’s a bit of an arbitrary balance point, but I think it can be hammered out well enough given a much closer relationship between Caps/Supers and subcapitals.
It may one day reach a point where Supercaps sit just above where capitals today are in terms of power.
Option #2: Filling The Gap
While this option won’t be entirely without nerfs to supercaps, it will focus much more heavily on regular Capitals and new ships.
Some of the roles currently filled by capitals will require somewhat of a split, similar to the separation of some carrier roles into FAX. This method may also see some existing ships reclassified into a tier higher or lower.
For example, let’s look at the combat dps line and dreadnoughts. Right now the biggest thing keeping dreadnoughts closer to subcapitals is siege. Without the penalty against remote assistance, dreadnoughts would be oppressively powerful over subcaps and even capitals in some cases. Siege essentially removes scaling as a factor in tank and logistics. You have a theoretical maximum tank and that’s it. Fleet composition will not change this. At the same time, it also makes them very vulnerable to Supercapitals, as that theoretical maximum is fairly easily reached without having the siege penalty.
One possibility to fill the gaps properly is to split dreadnoughts into two ships that fill the roles currently filled by one ship. Again, looking at subcap relationships for inspiration, the new dreadnoughts could have similar functions as destroyers and BCs do in their respective environments. One could be set at a tier or two lower and focus its strengths toward capital engagement. The other kept where it is or moved up one, while focusing its strengths toward subcapitals. It could even be reversed, whichever has better gameplay implications. Since they are both focused in a single direction rather than trying to stretch both ways, balance restrictions like siege may not be necessary in all cases which would allow a more complex environment.
The same idea also applies to FAX. One ship with a focus on capital needs, and another focusing on subcapitals needs. Both not needing triage to be the sole anchoring point for their strengths and weaknesses. One thing to consider as well, wherever the ships are split or moved, the resulting role doesn’t necessarily need to be covered by a single ship in that position anymore. If FAX were split into capital and subcapital focused versions, the capital focused ship doesn’t need to have the same rep output as its previously larger version achieved. If three can do the same job as one did before then all that’s left to look at is whether or not it’s resources (build costs) or logistical strains (can it fit in an SMA?) are and adjust accordingly.
For carriers it wouldn’t be as simple. Right now, supercarriers are more or less much better carriers by most significant measures. It may be more practical to just make sure that these two ships don’t overlap in capabilities too much as they do now.
Again, the above options aren’t the only choices available. However I do see it as very necessary for a healthy ship tree to either close the gap from the top or fill it in from the middle. The sudden gap in progression and power is just to large to ignore.
While the debate has spun around on its wheels on a number of ways to deal with capitals and supers, I don’t hear this massive gap being addressed as an issue often. While I may have written this piece almost entirely on raw HP numbers, Don’t forget that it also includes other factors as well, including things like damage and capacitor.
I strongly believe that this gap remains the core issue behind all of the other problems we see regarding the position of capitals in New Eden. If it is not addressed, the issues plaguing players and developers are just going to become much more prevalent and painful.