Ship Maintenance Bay Revamp - Escort Frigate System

Let’s preface this with the notion that mobile depots have made most uses for ship maintenance bays obsolete, and thus the appeal and “cool-factor” of them could use a bit of a revamp to make said ships more appealing.

My idea is that all ships with a ship maintenance bay will be able to deploy escort frigates, controlled similarly to drones and fighters, but limited to the capabilities of the frigate itself and the skills of the alt character “escort clone” piloting it. Yep, that was a bit loaded so let’s break it down:

  1. Whereas drone boats and fighter carriers use a standalone drone/fighter “item” to launch, this system will instead make use of your pre-fit frigates within the maintenance bay.
  2. All ships with ship maintenance bays are eligible, assuming they have the capacity to hold at least one frigate for escort purposes. (Sorry Nestor, escort shuttles won’t help you. Maybe buff Nestor’s bay size?) If this idea is implemented, I would suggest adding a 60k-100k ship maintenance bay to all freighters… because it makes sense for all freighters to be able to support a couple of escort frigates while traveling.)
  3. Only standard tech 1 frigates may be used as escorts. Higher tech and faction frigates are not capable of being escort frigates.
  4. Escort frigates cannot warp disrupt, warp scramble, launch drones or detonate smart bombs. All other weapon systems are allowed (assuming a standard frigate can utilize them)
  5. These escort frigates were built for use by capsuleers, and thus you may only launch them once you have an appropriately skilled alt character on your account to pilot it. Said character must have an available jump clone slot that will be dedicated as an “escort clone” which is unable to be jumped to while playing that character (it isn’t meant to be played) and cannot utilize implants. Simply right click a fitted frigate in the bay and click one of the two options: “Launch with ‘AltChar1Name’ as pilot” or “Launch with ‘AltChar2Name’ as pilot”.
  6. Reaching certain skill levels (Something in the leadership tree, like wing commander) will unlock the ability to utilize both alt characters as escort pilots simultaneously, and possibly reduce re-launch delay per rank (mentioned later on).
  7. Having deployed escort frigates provides an escort interface with commands that can be issued to each escort. By default they will orbit the player and respond according to aggression settings set within the interface (auto defend, only attack when ordered, etc.)
  8. Ammo is consumed normally by the frigate, and must be manually restocked once the escort frigate returns to the ship maintenance bay. Escort frigates will automatically use installed local repair modules to restore their hull/armor/shields as long as they are at 30% capacitor or above.
  9. Pressing the “Attack button” in the escort frigate interface will activate all eligible equipped high slot offensive weapons on the current target (remember smartbombs & drones are not eligible)
  10. Ewar modules can be manually activated in the escort interface by pressing that escort frigate’s “Electronic Warfare” button. Only 1 Ewar type may be utilized by an escort frigate, prioritizing the top-most mid slot with an Ewar module. (remember escorts can’t warp scram/disrupt)
  11. The escort frigate interface will also contain additional buttons for “Mine target” which activates any equipped mining lasers, “Repair target” which activates all remote rep modules, “Orbit target” to tactically reposition the frigate, “Cloak” to activate any fitted cloaking device (assuming they’re not too close to something that would decloak them), and “Return to Maintenance Bay” button for quickly recalling the escort frigate. If you warp away (including during combat) this button will be automatically utilized by the frigate(s) (assuming they are not in a bubble or scrammed) to return to your ship and resume orbit. Escort frigates automatically take gates along with you and share your gate cloak buff, but are left behind if not recalled before utilizing a jump drive.
  12. Recalling a frigate to maintenance bay prevents any further frigates from being launched for 30 seconds while regular maintenance is being performed within the bay (This is to balance spam dropping and recalling frigates to avoid locks/aoe, but my explanation was for the RP. Timer can be reduced with leadership skills.)

Some things to think about:

  1. “Wouldn’t this be too powerful for carriers/fax/dreads/titans to deploy 2 extra frigates each?”: I don’t really think so. With the escort frigates being limited to tech 1 standard, non-faction frigates, the potential firepower increase compared to what the ship is already capable of shouldn’t be all that much. If anything it would help them deal with smaller targets a bit easier in some cases, but overall it would result in even larger fleet battles and a direct increase to the demand for tech 1 frigates on the market as they are constantly used up by escort pilots.
  2. “Wouldn’t the Orca/Rorq deploying 2 Ventures to mine with alongside their drones be too much!? They just nerfed Orca/Rorq for solo mining!”: You’re right, they did indeed nerf their solo mining potential. But to be more precise, they wanted the ships to fit into their intended role more appropriately: as a command vessel that supports other mining ships. Now you can do exactly that, even if you are a solo Orca/Rorq player with no other accounts to run barges on (or just don’t feel like multi-boxing at the moment). It’ll definitely be a significant increase in mining yield, especially for the Orca, but the total yield of an Orca & 2 Ventures still shouldn’t beat a Hulk if we assume appropriate skills, and even less so if the hulk is receiving bursts. Furthermore, the Ventures would have to be recalled to the ship maintenance bay and have their ore holds manually unloaded before being redeployed 30 seconds later (yes the 30 second redeploy rule still applies to mining) which gives the industrial command ship pilots FAR more things to do and click on compared to how they currently function, which is basically completely AFK.
  3. “Why does it have to be your alt character that pilots the frigate(s)? Can’t it just be a random nameless NPC that we hire?”- It could, but that is less fun and it would also sacrifice some of the benefits and gameplay potential. First, your alt characters on your account have their own skill levels and skill point pool that you would have to contribute to in order to make them effective pilots. This makes you decided between training your main character, training your escort pilot, or purchasing MCT from the EVE store to do both (yep, MCT suddenly makes a lot more sense for more than just a SP extractor farm method). This also means that you can see a gradual increase in escort effectiveness as your alt character grows in skills.
  4. “Why is it limited to frigates? I can store battleships in my maintenance bay, why can’t they escort me!?”- Well… as cool as that would be, it would be far too powerful. Perhaps with time and testing the waters, the frigate escort system could be expanded upon by CCP if they feel like they can pull it off with destroyers/cruisers/etc. without breaking the game, but I think frigates would be a logical first step, and likely the final one.
  5. “Why not tech 2 or faction ships?”- Similarly to the above point, tech 1 standard frigates keep things simple and prevents exploits using advanced traits in unintended ways. Again, CCP could test the waters and expand to such ships at a later date if it seems viable.

That pretty much sums up my current thoughts about a ship maintenance bay revamp & frigate escort system. I know it was a big post, but if you made it this far then thank you for reading. If you have any additional suggestions or ideas that I didn’t consider, feel free to reply with them and I would be delighted to read them.

Two piddly little T1 frigates aren’t going to save you. Get friends.

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All this would do is encourage even more AFK mining.

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Haha, right? I agree, but that was intended. If you make the escort ships too powerful then it shifts the entire dynamic of the game’s balance. As it is, it would be a… very… small boost to potential firepower, and a better way to deal with drones and other frigates that are annoying you, with the potential benefit of strapping things like webs and target painters to your escorts for support.

The Orca is probably the one that stands to benefit the most, but with the current state of the Orca I’d say that it kinda needs it.

The Orca is not, and was never meant to be, a solo AFK Netflix roid miner. It is a FLEET command ship. As I said, get friends. You are playing an MMO, not a single player game with your army of alts…

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Actually it would be far less AFK. Currently you can drone mine completely AFK with Orca/Rorq (if you have the balls) but with this system you would have to recall the ventures to your bay and unload their ore holds manually, then relaunch them and send them back to their rocks. In effect it would become the most engaging, non-afk method of mining in the game, once your alt’s mining yield is high enough to quickly fill the venture’s hold.

What? No. Freighters dont need escort bays.

That was more of a side idea when I thought about the freighters you see slow-boating everywhere, but I could see the downside of it as well. Honestly though, if your freighter is a gank target then 2 tech 1 escort frigates aren’t gonna save it :stuck_out_tongue: At most it might help to defend against a tackler who is trying to keep you there until his friends arrive.

edit Oh wait, I guess you could technically web yourself for fast warps, huh? Perhaps restricting self-targeting webs would be necessary.

OP, your idea already exists.

They’re called fighters. Carriers have them. If you want fighters, fly a carrier.

Seeing as how I’ve gone 18 years without losing a mining ship to anything but my own stupidity, maybe you should get better at EvE instead of asking for more miner safety.

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I do fly my carrier from time to time and enjoy it, but this isn’t about that. All ships with ship maintenance bays, including carriers, would benefit from this. It would also reward players that build up their account beyond their primary character by granting a small amount of potential player power from their alts’ skills.

As for miner safety, I suppose it would increase for Orcas and Rorqs if they bring escort frigates to ECM tacklers while they escape. That is assuming they don’t get bubbled, and assuming they aren’t already utilizing venture escorts for increased mining yields. But it also leaves the door open for gankers and other fleets to utilize ships with ship maintenance bays to increase their fleet’s firepower and utility as well, so it works both ways.