First of all, let me say that nothing I’m about to discuss is broken and nothing NEEDS to change. I am looking into ways to improve quality of life and provide more diversity, and would like to explore areas I feel could improve even if they’re not necessarily broken or even bad.
I feel like the damage gap between turret T1/Faction ammo and T2 ammo is quite vast and, in my opinion, in need of tiericide. Let me explain what I perceive to be some problems and possible solutions to those problems as a basis for discussion. I don’t expect that my problem statements or solutions are perfect, so feedback is appreciated in better formulating the problems and providing better solutions.
(Unless otherwise specified, T1 will also refer to Faction ammo)
== Problem 1: Excessive, barely-distinguishable subdivisions of T1 Hybrid/Laser ammo==
There are 8 options for Hybrid and Laser ammo spanning short to long range, with minimal cap consumption in the (lower) middle, maximum cap consumption at short range, and moderate cap consumption at long range. It is clear what the use cases are for the longest, shortest, and middle options are, but the other options are harder to decide on. Sure, there are optimization tools that can tell you which ammo to use give numerous variables (range, tracking, traversal velocity, signature radius, etc), but in the middle of battle things change so quickly that it is impractical to calculate and make these changes on the fly.
Do you have time for this? Because I don’t.
Restricting yourself to one or a few (ie. short/middle/long) range ammo emphasizes the point that the other options are superfluous and unnecessary the way they are currently implemented. Some may argue that the options may be needed for cap balancing purposes (such as when you need to use Plutonium instead of Antimatter to be perfectly cap stable), but let’s be realistic: it only takes a single neut to break your cap stability, so unless you wish to confine yourself to no more than non-anomic L4 missions (and equivalent), this is not a good justification for having these options.
Solution A: Get rid of 5 of the 8 options for hybrid/laser ammo. This will greatly simplify the market, manufacturing efforts, in-combat adjustments, etc. Note that this is already the case with Exotic Plasma charges used by Entropic Disintegrators in that they only use three ammo types for three ranges, so precedent has been established.
Solution B: Model Hybrid/Laser ammo similar to Projectile ammo in which each ammo is highly distinguishable from each other not just in terms of range but also in terms of tracking bonus and damage type ratios (as is already the case with projectile ammo). So suppose we keep 8 options but now we have 3 that are +60%, 2 that are +0%, and 3 that are -50% range - how do we differentiate the ammo that have the same range? We could adjust the damage type ratios (T/K for Hybrid and EM/T for Lasers), cap consumption, damage, and tracking bonuses. (Technically the existing ammo damage type ratios do change a bit with range, but I mean to a more significant extent.) For example: one +60% might have more damage at the expense of more cap consumption and less tracking than another +60%.
(Lorewise, it’s rather odd that Gallente don’t have turrets that primarily inflict thermal damage; in fact, this distinction is given to Minmatar’s Phased Plasma. Perhaps one or more of these ammo variations, at least in the short range if not also long range, could inflict more thermal than kinetic damage, thereby giving Gallente the distinction of being the kings of thermal turret damage via blasters in addition to drone damage type.)
==Problem 2: Long-Range T1 Turret Ammo Damage is Excessively inferior To Long-Range T2 Turret Ammo Damage==
Obviously the T1 damage should be inferior to the T2 damage, but I feel the damage gap is too wide to the point of near-uselessness. T2 Long-Range Ammo offers damage comparable to Faction +0% ammo, and the +60% range ammo comes no where close to that. It appears to me that it is virtually never desirable to use long range T1 ammo (with the possible exception of projectiles given their high alpha) in the sense that your fit is designed and intended for use with that ammo. CCP’s tiericide initiative is about giving everything a place such that no two comparable items are strictly better or worse, just different (with T1 favoring affordability/accessibility/expendability over raw performance, but with performance still sufficient in many use cases, especially large-scale fleet usage); however, it does not appear that any good fit would gravitate toward primarily using long range T1 ammo. The use of T1 long range ammo appears to be almost strictly situational rather than the basis for a fit. I feel that long range ammo should be worthy of consideration as an anchor point for fit design, and for this to happen there would need to be an increase in damage. The increase obviously won’t be to the extent of T2 ammo, but should be reasonable given the range/tracking bonus/penalties that T2 ammo has that T1 ammo does not. (In other words, there is an additional tradeoff on top of simply offering more raw power.)
It’s worth noting that Missiles take an entirely different approach with their T2 variants - an approach that perhaps could be mirrored onto turret ammo. Instead of offering short and long range variants of superior raw power, T2 missiles either provide a Range/Power option (Javelin vs Rage), or a Precision/Power option (Precision/Fury). Both Power options (Rage and Fury) are far less precise than their T1 counterparts, so their use is not always desirable. (Precision is substantially harder to compensate for with missiles than turret ammo because there is a hard damage limit based on explosion/signature radius and an additional soft damage limit influenced by explosion/target velocity). For this reason, T1 (ie. Faction) missiles are often better to use than T2 missiles.
I feel long-range turret ammo should be tweaked such that there would be many situations in which we would favor using T1 (ie. Faction) ammo over T2 ammo (or reasons other than cost/availability or the ability for the turret to use T2 ammo. I feel the need to address this has increased following the announcement that the recent expansion permits T2 ammo to be used on Faction/Officer grade weapons.
(Note: I largely restricted this problem to long-range ammo because the damage gap between short-range T1 and short-range T2 ammo is far less drastic; The modest difference in damage and the relatively significant range/tracking bonus/penalty of the T2 ammo means that sometimes short range faction ammo will be desirable over short-range T2 ammo)
Solution: Increase raw damage of T1 long range ammo. Just a wee bit. Make it less useless, please.
==Problem 3: No At-A-Glance Reference of Effective Optimal Range Using Given Ammo==
This is self explanatory: without taking up precious screen space with the in-game fitting manager (or a third party tool, spreadsheet, etc) in the middle of a battle, you don’t know what the effective optimal and falloff range of your ship will be after switching to a different kind of ammo. There should be some mechanism by which we know, at a glance, what the optimal range (and maybe falloff) will be if you select one kind of ammo over another. Such an at a glance reference would allow us to better determine what kind of ammo you should switch to in the middle of battle. It would also update automatically with respect to buffs and debuffs received on the battlefield, something not quickly or easily input into these tools.
Solution: The simplest solution that I can think of that won’t clutter up the screen or require massive changes would be to include the optimal range (and optionally falloff) in parentheses in the list of available ammo you can change to in weapon’s the right-click menu. It might end up looking something like this:
Antimatter S  - 0.5km+5km
Iron L  - 87km+10km
The ammo should be listed in order of range (and secondarily name) rather than name, thereby providing an ordered spectrum of ranges (where we won’t need to memorize which ammo goes with which range).
Note that the currently equipped ammo would need to appear on the list in order to make a complete comparison; however, clicking on the currently selected ammo in the menu would do nothing - we don’t want to accidentally reload in the middle of battle as this could be problematic, so reloads would have to be done through existing means (ie. Don’t change reload UI behavior)