… but of course CCP can’t do that. So what should be done with supercarriers and titans? First I’ll explain the problem with them, especially if you haven’t been at alliance level planning meetings.
I’m often pushing for a war of some sort. The first question that gets asked is “do they have a super fleet?” (quick note here, supers usually means supercapital, I’ll try to specify if I’m referring specifically to supercarriers) if the answer is “yes” then the second question is “what would happen if we deploy ours?”. And I will tell you the answers, if they have one and we don’t bring ours we will lose the war (we tried bringing 1000 carriers and dreads against NC/PL a few years ago to see if that could work, it didn’t) and if we bring our fleet, we will win. Since X-47 Goons against p much any other group in this game will win barring just a cosmic failure. This is not a good position for either group in my opinion.
So if supers are bad for the game why wouldn’t we just give up ours? Well, we got beat up on by BOB and then PL/NC for about a decade and the institutional memory in the smokey leadership rooms at Goons is very long, especially for a video game. We’re not about to voluntarily go back to the position. If you’ve studied game theory at all you can probably see the problem here: if we gave up our position then whoever else defaulted into the biggest fleet in the game would just go back to beating up on us and no one remembers that fondly. Our position has always been “delete all supercapitals” and still is, even if that may be unrealistic.
I’ve been in the FC meetings back when PL/NC could teleport caps everywhere and 90% of the it was “well we could do this… but” and the but was always “we will be destroyed when they bring in the superior capital fleet”. It constricts you, you start to chafe against it. I’m proud of Goons in that we were able to wrest back control of our destiny, but I’m not happy. BOB/NCPL/Imperium all had too much power, and it’s not the player’s job to voluntarily put themselves upon the pyre, which is why no one ever gave up these advantages willingly.
The solution is to diminish the advantage we have in such a way that keeps titan ownership aspirational for the player - a financial goal for CCP - while making having the largest group of titans less valuable for the group - a game design goal.
This is an important point I think, I don’t have the data for this but I’ve seen many players expressing their long term goal is to own a titan. This is the kind of long term goal that keeps people subbed and interested even when things get a little boring. I believe it’s important for CCP that owning a titan be a viable wish. So if I had a magic wand that could delete supers I would but it’s a pipe dream.
That gives us two goals: make owning the largest pile of supers less influential but keep the dream alive for players so that CCP’s bottom line isn’t greatly affected. As an aside I think a healthier overall game draws in new players and keeps old ones active and subbed so it’s a net benefit to make these kind of adjustments.
Titans – The crux of the issue is that in a giant fight titans are ALL that matters. Nothing else is important. The ability to instantly vaporize any capital ship is incredibly powerful and especially since firing a doomsday is only a single command it’s very reliable in deep tidi. Right now the way a doomsday works is you fire it, it has a small spool time (roughly ten seconds) and then it fires off 2 million HP of hot sticky damage at whatever poor bastard you currently have targeted as long as they are still a valid target after the spool-up, then the doomsday goes on a 5 minute cool down. My proposal is relatively simple coding wise but would drastically change how titan fights are handled: make the spool-up last ten minutes long but have no cooldown once fired.
Now fights involving titans would be much more about grid control rather than solely who has the biggest swingin dick. You would have ten minutes of notice before the titan fired which means that whatever was targeted would have to be held on grid for ten minutes. The target (which would need to be notified they were being spooled on) could ask for help clearing bubbles and tackle. If they were able to break this they could warp off and the doomsday would whiff after the spool-up finished.
Now sub-capitals matter, for both sides. You need to devote ships to pointing enemy ships. You need to defend your bubblers. Or you need to kill theirs. Maybe you start using battleships (please) again each fitted with a couple of scrams to hold down your primary target. The enemy needs to kill them, or jam them, or damp them. I’m sure all the different scenarios have started playing out in your mind but the point is it’s an unsolved meta, the way the game would evolve to deal with it is exciting to consider.
Ok so this is a nerf to overall titan doomsday damage (half as much as current damage over time) so what do we do to keep titans attractive. I propose two more changes.
Remove HAWs from titans – this one is a little obvious, but titans being able to clear small ships off themselves after this change is undesirable.
Add the ability for titan doomsdays to target citadels and for them to ignore the damage cap. This gives titans a new role as bunker busters. But because of the way doomsdays now work you have to sit them on grid with the structures for at least ten minutes, and you would need to bring A LOT to one cycle a big structure, 3 different times. This would, hopefully, put more titans in space and vulnerable but it also gives them another role to help add to their aspirational status.
Supercarriers - I don’t think supers are nearly as aspirational as titans are. In fact titans have become so cheap that they are starting to overlap with classical supercarrier prices. I think for this reason supercarriers are something that can be changed to a greater extent. The game would benefit from a big shake up by them and it wouldn’t hurt CCPs bottom line in the way titans would.
So in the first X47 fight we knew that keepstars had a bug where titans could fire their doomsdays and if they killed a target they could retether without waiting off the cooldown. This was a huge issue for us because it meant that whiffing on enemy titans was a VERY high chance since they would be sitting on an active keepstar. So we came up with the plan for “jump hictors”. Supers have 80% of the tank of a titan but cost 1 / 4 of the price so any doomsday vollies fired at them is a waste when you could shoot a titan. Up until this point supercarriers had been dropped FAR away from the fight and they sent their fighters through the gap to fight at a distance. Instead we outfitted our supercarriers with capital warp scramblers and dropped them right on top of the enemy titan fleet. Talking with FCs on the other side I know they were totally shocked by this and didn’t expect it at all. But it let us lock down enemy titans and eventually helped swing the first X47 fight, which was a giant uphill battle for us, back in our favour. It was also a ton of fun for our super pilots who felt involved for the first time and not watching a battle from afar. So with that in mind I propose these changes:
- Supers can only field heavy fighters, no overlap with carrier light fighters.
- Reduce heavy fighter control range to 100km. Supers need to get in close enough to fight dirty.
- Give supercarriers a point/scram range bonus to encourage them fighting up close to help your titans complete their spool-up. Increase their ewar vulnerability to allow counterplay.
- This is a stretch goal and would require a lot more coding, but it’s a compensation buff I’ve been thinking about for a while: let supercarriers actually “carry”. Give them a module that allows them to turn into a mobile astrahus. A finite number of subcapitals of any type could dock in them (let’s say 50 for the sake of discussion) as long as this module was active. The module would lock the super in place for ~10 minutes. Pilots who docked in the supercarrier can undock as a capsule at anytime but they can only undock in their ship if the module is active. This would allow you to use a small number of supers to move a sub-capital strike force at higher speeds and deposit them behind enemy lines. There’s a lot of interesting plays you could use this for, like for instance the enemy fleet has blocked an in-gate. You could jump 5 supers behind them and undock your fleet of 250 guys there. It’s a gameplay method that has a lot of interesting options. Also even if it’s not always utilized it is very “cool” in concept so it increases the aspirational utility of supers.
In summary: When considering wars supers are the main and primary concern. They are far too strong. By making some relatively simple changes you could shake up a stale meta, you could make sub-capitals matter more, you could favour the biggest fleet less, and you could still keep a supercapital as an aspirational goal for the player.