Reimagining ECM

ECM has long been a difficult mechanic from a balance perspective. As pointed out in the dev blog the last time it was significantly reballanced, the RNG nature of ECM can often feel bad from the perspective of both the target and the user. As an enthusiast of all things E-War I’d like to lay out my idea for a ground up reimagining of ECM that I think will feel better from both sides of the engagement and open up more choices and options for countering its use, while maintaining its role as a strong disruptive force when utilized well.

The core change in this proposal is that ECM will no longer break ALL locks of the target vessel, and will not prevent new locks during its cycle. Each successful jam will break a fixed number of locks. Generally I will assume one but that is a potential point for balance considerations or ship bonuses. The goal here is not to disable a ship and take it out of the fight, but to disrupt coordination such as cap chains, logistics and timed volleys. Additionally, needing to relock targets repeatedly adds cognitive load to the hostile pilot, reducing their effectiveness in battle. With this arrangement current strengths and cycle times of ECM modules would be very weak, as such the modules themselves or the ships bonused to them will need to have significantly improved attributes. Below is a table to demonstrate the expected effectiveness of ECM with some rough approximations of where I think the numbers should probably fall. These are by no means final balanced figures. For reference, a current T2 ECM module has a strength of 4 and a cycle time of 20, while my base module is modeled with a strength of 5 and cycle time of 5.

You can see here that an unbonused ship will still be able to use the module, but on average it will take several cycles to break even a single lock. A lucky pilot could potentially use it to get away from a single attacker, but they will not be able to dominate a fight or escape a group of hostiles. Meanwhile, on the bonused ships you can see that strength bonuses are important but cycle time reductions really shine. The green highlighted sections are where you are guaranteed a successful jam, so any additional strength bonus is useless.

This model of ECM also opens up more options for potential counterplay by the target, both before and during the engagement.

  • Current options of using Signal Amplifiers, Sensor Boosters, links and implants to provide resistance to being jammed remain effective.
  • Sig Amps and Sebos can also allow faster lock speeds to reacquire targets after a successful jam.
  • Saturating your locked targets with additional hostile ships, drones or whatever else is on grid decreases the likelihood the broken lock is an important one.
  • Fitting Automated Targeting System modules allows you to have more locked targets.
  • Since ECM only breaks locks, but does not prevent them, you will always be able to get off single shots each time you complete a new lock.

Other thoughts

  • The graphical effect of the ECM module turning grey when a jam is missed, and full color for a successful jam, should remain to provide feedback to the user on the effectiveness of their efforts.
  • I’m not completely happy with the fact that this makes ECM slightly less effective against Alpha fits vs high RoF weapons, though it does disrupt timed volleys by breaking up the ability to lock secondary targets ahead of time.
  • This gives a lot of options for tuning balance. Base strength, base cycle time, strength bonus, cycle time bonus, capacitor usage, and locks broken per jam can all be tuned.
  • This also makes normal ECM modules and Burst Jammers operate in a more similar fashion for consistency across the EMC spectrum.
  • A flight of ECM drones should be tuned to be about as effective as a single, unbonused module.

Let me know what you think.

1 Like

“Fixing” ECM by making it not work?

No Thanks.

What you are discribing here is more of a “lockbreaker” than ECM.

Had similar concept some time ago. Didn’t see that any problems current system have had fixed. Putted idea to trash.