Thoughts on capital proliferation and economic diversification


For some time now, the question of capital proliferation has plagued the denizens of New Eden. With respect, I would like to offer my view of this problem, and perhaps, a potential solution. In the spirit of disclosure, I am a null-sec player and have capitals of my own. For those of you who have differing experiences or counter arguments, I would love to read them, but I would ask you to read the entirety of my point instead of cherry-picking and try not to miss the forest for the trees.

For some time now the increasing presence of capitals has been the direct cause of the formation of a great many salt-oceans. This seeming-epidemic of supercarrier ratters, roam-hotdropping carriers and dread-bomb fleets has reached a level of now severely dampening the presence of sub-caps in null-sec space. Not just for roams, but fleet engagements as well. Large scale capital engagements have become far more common place, and often, sub-cap pilots simply stay docked rather than even bother to get involved. A great many arguments on how to correct this have been presented. Two of the most common that I have heard is “eliminate skill injectors and raise the price of ore”, and “make capitals weaker so they are easier to kill”. I believe both these arguments are, at best, short sighted, but more likely simply fallacious in nature and I will explain my reasoning further.
Our problem is that currently, there are too many capitals roaming around, so the elimination of skill injectors or price of ore will not reduce that number, it’s the PILOTS of which there are too many, not the ships. But the elimination of skill injectors just slows the number of new capital pilots, it doesn’t deal with whats already there. The price of ore will slow their building, but not enough to justify the damage to the rest of the economy, not when people can gather resources and isk so readily in null-sec space. The weakening of capitals would do more harm then good, as a great many players who spent the time to get one would feel cheated, and that’s never a good thing. And not necessary in this case. Furthermore, if your purpose is to kill capitals, then why would you want to remove skill injectors? Since a newbro wallet-warrior in a capital is nothing more than a shiny killmail anyway…
The simple truth is this: a capital, ANY capital, represents an incredible investment in both time and resources to attain. They SHOULD be very powerful and dominating when they appear on grid. But they should not be indestructible to anything but another capital. And there in-lies our problem: right now, the functionally are.
A quick anecdote: When I first started playing in null-sec space, we formed a fleet of cruisers, and I asked one of the more experienced players a very simple and very new-broish question: Why don’t we just fly battleships all the time for these?” (I had been playing for a matter of less than 3 weeks at this point). His answer was one of the first things to make me fall in love with eve. He said: “Battleships aren’t the top of the food chain.” As he explained it to me, and I believe it to be basically correct, even now: Destroyers eat frigates, cruisers eat destroyers, battlecruisers eat cruisers, and battleships eat battlecruisers. But frigates will eat cruisers and cruisers will eat battleships.

We’re talking about capitals, why mention this?
Answer: Because it exemplifies that there is a “food-chain” to ships in eve. There is no final answer, everything in the game has a “natural predator”. And that predator can be found by moving two jumps in either direction of ship classes…except capitals.
As shocking as it may sound, no one willingly enters a pvp fight WANTING to lose. We go in wanting to win. So with that being the case, why would I, or any other capital pilot, EVER get into a sub-cap for a real fight when the capital virtually guarantees my victory against anything but another capital? I wouldn’t…and neither will the rest of them. And this is the problem we have to fix. Not get rid of the capitals, not weaken them, not make it harder to get them so the become some exclusive club and the rest of you scrubs can f*** off: no. We must give a reason for these CAPITAL PILOTS to field something else. For that, lets move on to weapon systems.

All the sub-cap turret weapon systems in the game follow a very simple pattern at the cruiser-and-up level: The small high angle gun for “punching-down” and lesser ship classes with lesser damage but great tracking. The mid-range jack of all trades weapon, and the B.F.G to hit hard, even “punch-up” to higher ship classes. Missiles don’t follow this pattern; they just have long range and short range with the ammo itself helping to determine what your are shooting at. This is part of our problem.

These weapon systems are entrenched…they are used in countless ships and doctrines all across the breadth of new eden and the radical changing of any of them would have countless unforeseen consequences and likely very few of them would be good. But fortunately, there are not one but TWO weapon systems which are almost never used: Heavy Assault Missiles and Torpedoes(outside of stealth bombers, which I will discuss shortly). These weapon systems are both passed over for a very simple reason…there are better choices. Heavy missiles, Cruise Missiles, even Rapid Light missiles are better nearly across the board depending on what you want to do. Because of the extremely low useage of HAW’s and torps, we *could change these with a very minimal effect to the in-game ship useage.

My suggestion (bout DAMN time a**hole…I know) is this: We take HAW’s and Torpedoes, and we increase their explosion radius by about 100*, then decrease their explosion velocity by about 50-75%(yes, I know, that’s HUGE). This would functionally make them useless to sub-cap class ships. But no one uses these so who cares…
Then, we increase their damage by about 2-300%. Perhaps even more for all the stats of torpedoes. This would make these short-range missiles into a credible threat for capital ships. HAW’s for dreads, faxes and carriers, and torps for supers and titans. And in this scenario, you would likely WANT to be short range to get under their guns. Now I’m sure my numbers are not quite right, but the point was to show how far we should be willing to take them (forest for the trees, remember).

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Now, right about now the capital-purists are going to be screaming obscenities to me through their computer screen and furiously typing things that really boil down to “f** you if you want to kill my capital”, but the truth is, there is a massive disconnect between sub-cap, and capital combat. This change would not make my battlecruiser wielding HAW’s solo a dreadnought, but it would make a dozen of them orbiting a dread bomb in tight a threat that cannot be ignored. The obvious question is: what about torpedo bombers? Well, that’s easy, give them a role bonus that is the exact opposite of what we just did to the missiles. BANG! Nothing changed for them.

I propose the following hypothetical scenario:

Current Balance:
Force A attacks Force B with a capital blob.

Force B can match the blob and undocks capitals, sub-caps stay primarily docked. Or Force B cannot match and they all stay docked with exception of a few scouts and harrassers here and there.

At best, we have two fleets involved, and they are functionally all capital pilots, newbro’s/sub-cap pilots not needed.

New Balance concept:
Force A attacks Force B with a capital blob.

Force B can match the blob, so they undock capitals…but they don’t want to MATCH, they want to WIN. So they undock a doctrine of missile battlecruisers with their capitals to assist. But they don’t want to lose them to the carrier support of the other fleet, so they man up every newbro with a frig or a destroyer to go out and de-fang the carriers.

Force A expected this outcome as they outnumber them in capitals, but not in sub-caps: so they include a force of battleships or faction cruisers to deal with those battlecruisers with some of their capital pilots being forced to ship down, and they ALSO include a force of frigs and dessies to cover them from the opposing carriers.

We now have at least 4, possibly 6 or 8 fleets, with pilots ranging from capital all the way to frigate involved, with every pilot having a purpose.

I believe that a change like this to these two weapons will result in a greater diversification of the battles in eve, and allow a possible counter to the capital, FORCING capital pilots to, on occasion, pick a different ship to undock, as it means capitals wont be able to be deployed so brazenly without support. Furthermore, it will take ships with far less useage such as the drake, prophecy, SNI or typhoon and give them new life, new purpose, and new market along with two nearly unused weapon systems. This diversification of demand can only aid the in-game economy, and allow the inclusion of the newer pilots(eve onlines’ future) into these major engagements while allowing for more tactical options other than the simple N+1 that we currently are experiencing.

Capitals are, and should remain, a dominating force in a battle. Their presence on a grid should signal a clarion call that THIS fight just got serious. But they simply cannot continue to be the untouchable force: they must have a natural predator or this proliferation will continue unabated to the detriment of all.

If you have reached this far, I would like to thank you for the respect you have given me by reading this post. Have a good day, and good hunting.

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I read the whole thing, I promise. Instead of changing current weapon systems, I think ships and/or new weapons systems with role bonuses would be a better answer. That being said, it’s hard to predict how people will handle new ships and weapon systems. I think they tried this approach already with triglavian fleets… but weren’t successful.

And you’re right. Every cap pilot is going to hate this.

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