Let me start out by saying that I sincerely like the fact that Squadrons have introduced an Active aspect to Fighter gameplay. The ability to control your fighters more or less similarly to how you’d control a ship is quite nice, and fun. I enjoy having the ability to give my fighters the Command to engage targets, quickly burn into range with their MWDs, and launch a missile volley for a solid, sudden strike. This all helps to make fighter gameplay more engaging and interesting.
With that being said, there is a MAJOR downside to the Squadron mechanic, in my eyes. This is the fact that, despite being made up of multiple craft, you can target the entire Squadron, ECM, web, and apply damage, all at once. To be clear, you damage and kill 1 fighter at a time, but you don’t have to re-target any consecutive craft. The damage just proceeds down the line, from one fighter to the next, though EWAR applies to the entire Squadron.
This simple fact makes defanging a carrier exponentially easier than defanging something like a Dominix. With drones, you can only lock, EWAR, damage, and kill one at a time, leaving the rest of the unmolested drones free to go about their task of attempting to kill you horribly.
So, this brings me to a bit of a cross-roads, in terms of solutions. On one side, you have simply changing the mechanics to lock and engage a single fighter at a time, but Idk how exactly that would work with the Squadron mechanic. Are the fighters within a squadron considered individual craft, like stacked weapons on a ship (which are individually rendered and calculated), or are they more or less treated as a single entity? How would the go about allowing you to only lock and engage a single fighter at a time, when the whole squadron is represented by a single icon, in space, and on the overview? Would you just lose lock on that squadron and have to re-lock it? Doesn’t sound ideal, but idk how else to go about it. Thoughts?
The other option would be to apply the Squadron Mechanic to Drones - I can hear the screams, already - for the sake of consistency and balance. Another option would be to simply buff fighters, specifically their hitpoints, though I’m not particularly a fan of these options, as neither actually addresses the root cause of the issue.
There are good aspects of the Squardon mechanic, as I have pointed out. Having to actively control your Fighter Craft is definitely more fun than simply clicking “engage target,” and is something that I, personally, wouldn’t mind seeing applied to drones, as well (btw, there are visible icons/buttons to Launch and recall fighters…this would be immensely nice to have for drones, as I tend to forget the hotkeys and right-clicking is a bit tedious). But the fact that you lock, web, ECM, etc an entire squadron really kind of defeats the purpose of having “swarms” of fighters. And, given the cost of Fighters, the Isk and time invested in training to use them, you’d expect it to be reasonably harder to defang a Thanatos than a Dominix, which isn’t the case in my experience (solo, small gang to mid-sized fleet engagements, mostly).
I also know that squadrons were implemented as a way to help with TiDi in huge fleet fights (another reason why a similar mechanic might be good for drones). So, I’m not exactly sure what can be done to address my issue, which is why I am here, putting my thoughts out there to be ridiculed by you lovely folks.
Carriers aren’t exactly loved, these days, so many folks seem to look at their issues as “Not my ship, not my problem.” I honestly think Carriers are getting into a good place, but I see this as the biggest thing still standing in the way.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I feel strongly about this and look forward to the helpful and insightful input that y’all will provide.