Carrier Ratting Balance


Carriers have recently undergone a number of nerfs due to their incredible success at ratting. It was going to cause serious issues with the eve economy, so their combat ability was nerfed. This in turn led to a dramatic loss in their popularity for PvP, with dreads essentially replacing them. Unlike carriers, dreads can’t receive reps while putting out a reasonable amount of DPS, so this has also had a negative impact on FAXs as well. This is not to say that FAXs aren’t used, it’s just to say that with no capital smaller than a supercarrier available to rep, their use has narrowed considerably and has shifted outside of their original, intended purpose. In short, I would like to see carriers viable again without ruining the eve economy, and I think there is a way to get there.


1. Force carriers to stay on field when they shoot things. One of the biggest reasons why carriers don’t die while ratting is because they can run entire sites aligned to a citadel that they can tether to. They could (and still can) run sites at a considerably lower risk than a battleship, or even a cruiser like a VNI or Ishtar. A Venture mining a rock is easier to catch than a ratting carrier. A carrier can escape in a single server tick. Give them an “open fighter bay” button, which takes 15 seconds to cycle, inhibits warp and microwarp drives (to prevent MWD mass-coasting), and sets their ship speed to 0. This way, if they want to launch or recover fighters, they have to commit to staying on the field for a bit.

2. Adjust cyno mechanics considerably. The other reason why carriers do so well is collective carrier defense. When a carrier gets attacked, it lights a cyno and every other carrier in the coalition that’s ratting drops on it, and wins against anything smaller than a full-scale dreadbomb. There are plenty of ideas on how to change this. You could do cyno warm-up timers, various forms of more effective cyno inhibitors, cyno mass limits etc. It’s a problem that is causing an entire class of ships (and one of the most interesting from a gameplay mechanic standpoint in my opinion) to be nerfed to the point of irrelevance.

If those two things are done, I think carriers will find themselves back in a good place balance-wise when it comes to ratting, allowing combat balance to be focused where it should be: PvP.

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Ventures can be aligned to a station all the time with a Higs rig.

To kill a carrier you just need a couple of cruisers and 2 logis.

If you inhibit their mobility, you have to give them more tank and DPS. Like dreads.

Rather than nerf carriers, why not make NPC smarter? the ship itself poses absolutely no threat to NPC rats - they should focus 100% of their attention on killing the fighters.

You could also have a minimum respawn interval so ISK/hour is capped - doesn’t matter how fast you clear the site.

Lots of options that don’t require nerfing the ship.

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That’s close to what I’m advocating. If you make them easier to catch in sites, they’ll lose popularity as ratting ships, meaning you can increase their combat stats without impacting the economy in a large, negative fashion. The point of this is to set the groundwork to make them stronger PvP ships.

That being said, I think they need more DPS, but probably not more tank. These are the capitals that can receive reps while fighting, can project thousands of kilometers, and even with these changes, would be far more maneuverable than dreads. They need something to keep them in line, and I think a relatively weak tank is a good way to do that.

You could do something like the Sleepers - spawn 3-4 strong, properly-fit battleships with no bounty to fight the capital, per capital, if the player attacks rats with one or more. You can already make more than enough money fighting rats with cruisers and the occasional battleship, capital ratting is just overkill IMO.

Make enough money with 1 cruiser? Or in a Rattlesnake when the crappy AFK trash blocks all the anomalies? And your average T1 BS costs 300M with fitting and you lose 1 every time you undock it for a fleet fight?

This doesn’t actually do anything. Losing a full three flights of T2 Fighters is still preferable to losing your Carrier, and regardless Fighters are still capable of being recalled from another grid, so the recalling player can just warp to the Citadel, tether, and then bring their fighters back then. Even if they can’t recover them they can still just dock up. Net win on their part.

Except anything you do to Cynos has massive consequences for the game as a whole. While some players would certainly be happy to see such a nerf happen CCP are very unlikely to go through with any kind of large scale change.

Massively changing Cyno mechanics would have a big impact on the game across all of Low and Null on how people play. If you can’t effectively bring reinforcements directly onto grid anymore then people become much less willing to engage. Today, if both sides have off-grid forces, then there’s a tangible unknown in play and the game becomes one of intel and guesswork. This allows for one side to turn around an initially unfavorable engagement or for an engagement to escalate wildly outside the estimations of either side.

Your first idea would do basically nothing as you proposed it. If you tweaked it so that Carriers have dread-like risk then they’ll simply stop being used, because general consensus is that ratting in a Dread is suicide.

Your second idea is never going to happen because it’s not a pinpoint nerf to ratting, it’s a massive hammer to a full 2/3rds of the game.

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NSE could be adjusted to allow movement but not warping off while online. Activation time 1.30-2 min.

Mobile cyno inhib takes too long to online.

@Do_Little drone aggro is already an issue (it’s bugged). If fighters get primaried or jammed all the time (not to mention losing them), no one would rat in a carrier. Site / spawn redesign would be better imho. Elite cruisers with long range points that point the carrier and a chance to spawn a dread on each wave if capitals are on grid. Stuff like that.

Would be also nice to see pve dreads. Currently there are none because it would sit half the time doing nothing (and another 40s aligning out) while a carrier finishes the next site. If sites had harder/ more rats maybe dread pve would be viable.
And those are stuck for 5 min by default ^^

You do know CCP has increased the amount of aggro fighters take in sites, very intentionally, twice now? It doesn’t do much beyond ensure that you have to be paying attention to your Fighters. As long as they keep moving they’re fine, if they stop they start dying.

My first idea has nothing to do how the person reacts once reds are in system. At that point, I assume they will do everything they can to get to warp, regardless of where their fighters are at. What it does is forces them to run the site non-aligned, because as they’re running sites, they’re going to have to launch and recover fighters from time to time. Whenever they do this, they’ll have to break alignment, giving a greater opportunity for hunters to catch them. It will give them a level of risk that is somewhere between a battleship and a dread, leaning towards the battleship end of the spectrum, which is probably where their risk should be considering the greater reward of using a carrier for ratting. It shouldn’t be less risk than a battleship, which is what it is right now.

When it comes to cynos, tweaks to the mechanics won’t necessarily prevent escalation. In some ways, I think a nerf to cynos would make escalations more powerful, because it won’t be a given that a super fleet that’s in range of you will drop when you escalate to capitals. There will be some finesse to making that happen. How much finesse depends entirely on what mechanic actually ends up being used. I intentionally didn’t suggest anything hyper-specific because I think that’s separate discussion. However, I wanted to highlight a reason why it needs work. The economy in eve is perhaps the most vital aspect of the entire game, and carrier ratting is a huge part of the eve economy. Lack of balance there is a significant issue.

Your assumption here is incorrect. Barring a large mistake or something like a dread spawn the only time a Carrier launches or recovers Fighters is at the start and end of the site. The align issue at the end could be mitigated by hitting a MWD before recovering fighters. Then hit the hangar bays, the ship starts slowing and coasting, and should be at or close to warp velocity by the time the bays are closed again.

Besides, as we’ve already established, it’s better to abandon the fighters than lose the ship, so the Carrier will still be aligned to a Citadel the entire site and ready to warp.

Anything you can do that makes it so a Carrier can’t drop a Cyno before it gets burned to the ground will make them all but unusable in most other contexts, pretty much guaranteed. If you have some miracle idea that you somehow think can pinpoint nerf ratting Cynos I’d love to hear it.

At which point what’s the point of having that super fleet if you can’t drop it defensively?

Escalation is only a good thing if both sides can do it, which means if you drop someone with overwhelming power without a plan to deal with that you deserve to get swatted.

Yup, this much is agreed on by pretty much the entire community, including CCP.

Your solutions however are the equivalent of leveling a mountain because a trail up the side was deemed somewhat unsafe. There are both better and less destructive solutions that have been proposed. Ones with fewer ulterior motives too, if it comes to it.

Also, while we’re on the subject, nerfing Carrier Ratting by increasing the danger doesn’t actually solve the ISK faucet problem.

Either it’s still economically viable, and just results in a lot more dead Carriers, in which case the ISK faucet is still around and still spewing money into the economy, or you’ve killed it dead (which isn’t actually a good thing) and the danger increase is somewhat moot for gameplay because Carrier ratting isn’t something anyone does anymore. It’s just not economically viable when factoring in losses.

That’s why it’s much better to nerf the actual faucet payouts of the sites, since that actually controls inflation, rather than increasing losses, because if you just increase losses all that ISK is still pouring into the economy.

That’s why CCP’s stopgap is to nerf Carrier DPS until they can rework the sites.

First, I thought that with the rat agro changes that carriers routinely swapped out fighters as they took damage. Apparently, I’m incorrect and the mechanic I proposed wouldn’t work. However, I still believe the principle of forcing carriers to stay on field, at least for longer than a server tick, is valid. There may still be an ISK faucet issue, but I think it would be reduced because fewer people would be willing to take that risk. For example, plenty of people who can afford a pirate faction battleship still rat in VNIs, Ishtars or T1 battleships precisely because they don’t want to risk a more expensive hull.

Second, you and I have different opinions on cynos, and I think we’ve gone back and forth on them on a variety of threads on the old forums. I see the ease of bringing reinforcements into a fight through a cyno, with very limited counterplay as being an issue, whether that be a Prospect dropping a BLOPS gang, a defensive counterdrop fleet, or a capital fleet escalating to a super fleet. I don’t think it should be impossible to reinforce, but I think fights would be more interesting if being able to reinforce wasn’t a given.

Cyno system jammers are one of the few valid counters to cynos (other than your own cyno/escalation of course), and I think they’re fantastic and lead to a lot of interesting fights. A defender can prevent or delay an attacker from escalating, but they have to balance this with defending the strategic objective. It adds interesting, meaningful complexity to an otherwise very binary mechanic (drop/counterdrop). However, I think that single mechanic is too limited, and is really geared toward giant strategic fights. I would like to see mechanics that provide more complexity when it comes to cynos at a smaller scale.

I agree that the easiest way to fix the balance would be to make the rats almost exclusively target the fighters. It’s painfully obvious that the ship with no guns and a massive tank is not a threat, so why are the rats aggressing the carrier?

The same would also solve AFKtars and the AFK navy issue. The player could easily fit a gun or ewar module to their ship to hold or at least divide aggression. Or they could fit remote reps and rep their drones… what a world!

+1 to whoever said that rats just need to be smarter. Someone posted it, I wanted to voice my support for it.

Nope, swapping Fighters wastes time and having them burn straight away from the site to return to you just makes them take more damage. The best way to deal with the increased agro is increased micro and keeping your fighters orbiting, generally by having them orbit either a piece of scenery or a wreck as the last thing in a wave dies and moving them from target to target quickly.

That’s a problem of risk vs reward. People rat in Ishtars and VNIs because that can be done mostly AFK and is scalable, people rat in T1 Battleships instead of Faction because the increase in value isn’t worth the increased risk or cost.

My point about Carrier ratting is that most of the safety there comes from intel networks and most of the danger from other players, barring the occasional loss to unlucky dread spawns. Given this then the majority of players would be unaffected by something that kept Carriers on grid for a relatively short period of time, and anything that kept them on grid long enough to cause them any significant issues would either see the death of Carrier ratting for large chunks of the playerbase, or no significant impact on ISK income as people decide the money is still worthwhile.

The reason I feel there’s not a ton of middle ground here is because the majority of players ratting like this are within major alliances with significant intel networks, or large renting communities with similarly significant intel networks.

We also have the example of the Rorqual to draw on, where the danger posed by the Industrial Core had little to no effect on the willingness of people to mine because the rewards were worthwhile.

You see it as an issue. Personally I have no strong feelings on the matter. What I’m saying here is that CCP doesn’t see it as a problem and sees the interactions there as desirable and good for the game. If they felt otherwise then Cyno Inhibitors wouldn’t be so restricted in use, Cynos would have stricter fitting requirements, or one of a dozen or more other things CCP could do if they really felt like limiting Cyno use. They pretty clearly don’t so the onus is on the people who want to see a change to prove that it’s needed and good for such change to happen.

There’s a couple of problems with this though.

One, it’s frustrating to deal with and not a lot of fun. As things stand right now Fighters have pretty limited counter play against being targeted by rats, and most of that boils down to “kill them first” and “keep moving”.

Drones have even less than that, they pretty much just die if aggressed.

On top of that as I said above that doesn’t actually limit the amount of ISK being generated, it just makes players incur an expense. That may limit their profits but the ISK pouring into the economy stays roughly the same.

While I certainly agree that something should be done to limit AFK play I don’t think the answer to Carriers is more Fighter aggression, the answer is a change to site behavior and how efficient and effective Carriers are as site runners, as well as possibly shifting some significant portion of a Carrier’s reward for site running into loot, since loot isn’t an ISK faucet.


@Old_Pervert rats sometimes completely bug out which makes drones un-viable until relog or some other shenanigans, seems to be ancient code.
as for repping… trying to rep sentries vs. incomming battleship damage with medium reps is not very effective, trying to rep (or recall) heavy drones before they get volley’d of the field is almost impossible as one or two will be webbed and medium reps are short range.

The dread spawns somewhat pushed people towards vni’s or carriers, leaving battleships in the dust.
VNI- doesn’t matter if it gets killed by the dread, most hunters will ignore it
BS- 8-12s warp off, carries a big “PLEASE DROP ON ME” sign, gets killed by NPC dread easily
Carrier- 1s warp off (10 if you wait for fighters), can kill the dread (or at least stay on grid till buddy arrives)

In a PVP fight, if you’re fighting two ships and one is repping the other, do you attack the ship that is repping, or the ship that is dpsing?

My money is on the logi ship. “Smarter” rats would do the same thing. “Hey that dude is logi” should be a huge kickme sign. Fitting even a single rep to a VNI to rep your heavy drones is viable, assuming you’re actually repping a drone that is taking damage.

A medium rep may not be hugely effective, but drones don’t exactly have large buffers either (as you well said). I disagree that drones get volleyed when they get targeted, unless you’re ignoring the small stuff that can actually track your drones. I’ve done a lot of VNI ratting, and I’ve personally seen the bug you’re talking about. It certainly made it a PITA, but having a rep to shift aggro back to me would be sufficient. Or heck even just a TP on your active target.

As for your BS getting killed by the capital spawn, I have no experience with the dreads but I do with the drone carriers. A BS should be able to take a volley from an NPC capital pretty easily, which given their slow ROF, should be enough for you to get off grid (3-5 seconds while it lands, a few seconds while it targets, and then their weapon cycle timer of 6 seconds). If you can’t take a volley, tank it more. I presently rat with a nightmare.

Your last point about carriers highlights the problem. They DGAF. They just align in case neuts come into system, and then rat with impunity; the exact problem needing to be addressed.

Right, and I’m saying carriers don’t need to be the default ratting choice at all. They’re isk printing machines at the moment. Only a complete idiot will get tackled while ratting in a carrier, and neuts are the ONLY threat they need to worry about. I’m not saying a knee jerk overnerf is the right idea (by making them unviable) but I am saying that they need to be severely adjusted at the moment.

I would argue that if they keep losing fighters at a steady rate, it will make their net income smaller than it would be with a subcap. If they’re ratting, they aren’t doing it to feed isk into the market, they’re doing it to feed isk into their wallets. If net in + net out = less than a subcap, they’ll switch back to subcaps.

If they want to rat in a dread, more power to them. They’re sieged, which means they can be tackled. No issues with that at all, I think that is a perfectly fair trade.

If a Carrier earns less than a subcap with any consistency then that’s basically making them completely unviable for ratting, especially since as the recent Fighter aggro changes have shown anything that makes them consistently lose Fighters is walking a pretty thin line between “reducing income” and “Fighter genocide” since rats aren’t targeting a certain statistical point, they’re just shooting Fighters until they run out or they die.

CCP aren’t going to make Carriers unviable, there are literally thousands of players who have trained into Carriers for the express purpose of ratting and Carriers have been ratting ships almost since they entered the game.

Comparing to Dreads at all is a fool’s errand here. Unless your sites time almost perfectly to your siege timer (not happening) then you’re wasting too much time to be really viable, and you’re at way more risk. That’s not a benchmark CCP should be trying to hit or that we as players should expect them to hit.

I disagree. As said, only a complete idiot gets tackled ratting in a carrier. They can rat with literally zero risk. Why should that not come at a cost of lower net income?

Sadly true. That said, it goes to show just how rediculous they are for ratting if thousands of players trained into them just to rat.

A drone horde has roughly 28 mil in bounties in it. A dread running one site every 5 minutes, with say… 1 minute travel time between sites will run 10 sites per hour. That’s 280 million isk per hour. As for it not happening, it can absolutely happen. A Rapid Torp Pheonix with bling can easily do it… and the cost of ammo is even irrelevant at the same time (they don’t use XL ammo). Slap a smartbomb on for the frigs/dessies, torp the cruisers+.

Even with bling, it’ll pay for itself in a few days.