My alliance was having a discussion tonight about carriers and the role they have in Eve. And, honestly, we had a hard time finding a niche for them.
In the past, when they could use drones, they were a very solid counter for subcaps, but post changes they have lost their role in that. For high damage against slow targets you now can bring a HAW dread, and if you want to deal any appreciable damage to a structure you bring a cap gun dread or supercarrier. For quick drops against targets of opportunity, black ops are arguably better, as two blops deal as much dps as a carrier for half the price.
1.5-2 million ehp is good, but with no active tank bonus they will struggle hard to stay alive against even subcaps, while not being able to do nearly as much in return, thanks to fighters’ poor application. Buffer dreads can easily hit double the tank numbers for similar cost, while being able to apply some serious damage in return.
Decent, but again, for the cost it’s not worth fielding them over a fax which can provide similar bonuses while also providing repair power.
So, what is their intended role? I would suggest that they be a counter to subcap escalation, where you want to bring some carriers to counter a large group of subcapitals. This could be done with a couple of changes:
First, higher ehp. They don’t get the massive tank bonus from a Seige module, so I would suggest a role bonus of 100/50% shield/armor buffer modules. This would give them staying power on grid, but also not incentivize ludicrous active tanks.
Second: a larger fighter bay, and 3 tiers of fighters, mirroring drones, but in a carrier only function. Low dps/high application to small hulls, moderate dps/moderate application to medium hulls, and high dps/low application to large hulls. Aim for 700/1500/3000 dps, to give a carrier pilot a shot at making a dent in a subcap fleet. However, also make the bay only be able to accommodate a few of each, requiring them to make choices and care for their fighters closely. This could be done my making Space Superiority fighters apply their damage to ships, but that’s merely a suggestion for ease of implementation.
These changes would provide meaningful choices to be made when fitting and flying your carrier, but make them more appealing to use, and justify their pricetag, which is currently a very poor ratio of utility to cost. As it stands now, compared to a black ops with T2 fit, you get twice the damage, but worse target profiles, four times the tank, worse mobility, worse safety, due to using a hard cyno, and all that at five times the Isk.
Let’s bring our big boys out of the past and into Eve’s third decade where they can shine once again, as an aspirational ship, and a star shining bright in our galaxy.