Ship Balance The Vexor Navy Issue is still the King
It’s not often I get to/take the time to write up a piece about a ship twice. Still, I’m coming back to the Vexor Navy Issue after the changes because I think it really does deserve the attention.
Ratting is based on the principle of finding and killing NPC Pirates (aka 'Rats') for the purpose of gathering bounties and loot. It is one of the most common and effective means of income in EVE Online. There are a lot of unknown factors like how many go from one ratting account with a carrier/super to multiple with VNI/AFKtars. All the nerf in this pach.
There’s been a lot of mixed attention given to the VNI changes, and so it would be unfair of me if I didn’t give the VNI a solid dialectic; examining the changes to the ship from both sides of the fence. So I’m going to break this article down into three sections: The Good, The Bad, and The Botter.
The good is so… so… very good.
As a purely PVP ship the VNI was already a beast, but it’s actually gotten a lot more dangerous than I’d imagined this balance pass would have favored. Usually when CCP balances a ship they’re trying to correct for an over-powered meta – and that was definitely the case here, no doubt – but they do not usually make the ship more OP than it was. This is not the case for the Vexor Navy; they have definitely given it a realignment in step with its intended purpose as a solo cruiser, small-gang skirmisher, and face-melt fleet brawler.
Here’s the fit I’ve been rolling around in lately (click to enlarge):
Resists of nearly 60% across the board, ~560 DPS with drones and blasters, 648 m/s with propulsion on (almost 900 m/s with heat), and 180 hp/sec active armor repair (1,629 hp per 9-second cycle). It’s pretty beastly, which is why I call mine the Green Meanie.
I intentionally kept my version of PyFA – the Python Fitting Assistant – on the last revision so that I could demonstrate the PVP gains the fit has enjoyed with the changes the developers have introduced. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is the same fit on the old ship with one fewer turret, the same number of drones, and the ‘original’ stats.
It should be noted this particular fit is designed for solo PVP. Comparing apples-to-apples the VNI, exactly as I have it fit gains an extra 100 dps with the role increase to hybrid turret damage and tracking and sees a huge increase in its repair amount over the old stats.
What it loses out on is the capacity to field 5 heavy drones, a reduction of 46 dps overall from the old fit with 5 drones and the same guns as compared to the new fit. The new fit, however, still deals 218 dps from guns alone and that is with my imperfect skills. So very much an extremely capable brawler, and even with my less-than-stellar fitting ability it is a ship to be reckoned with. Those theory-crafters out there who are good at what they do can make the VNI into a thing of savage charm and devastating effectiveness.
For what CCP amusingly refers to as “Low-attention anomaly ratting” the Vexor Navy Issue used to be extremely over-powered, which was of course the majority impetus of this balance pass. Any null-sec alliance member could, secure in their own space under the safety of a capital umbrella, put out a half-dozen VNI into anomalies, put out drones, set them to aggressive fire, and set the ship on orbit. When they clear the anomaly, just warp them to new ones; rinse-and-repeat.
With enough alt characters the VNI allowed both genuinely invested players and those who… aren’t… the ability to generate super-ratting levels of income with a ship which could be replaced, fully-fit, for approximately 90-110 million ISK a-piece. Which, quite frankly, is entirely why the ship deserved the attention it got.
Even I covered the use of the ship in my ‘Ratting for Income‘ video for newbros on YouTube (though admittedly I also recommend the use of other vessels as well) and I’m an advocate for active ratting.
A typical fitting for a high-passive-regen shield-tanked VNI (click to enlarge):
Old stats on the left, new stats on the right, for the same fit.
At face value the typical null-sec AFK anomaly ratter loses almost 300 dps using drones alone! The old fit put out almost 750 dps as compared to the new stats where the same fit gets only 424! That’s a hell of a fall and entirely what CCP is going for. When compared to the insubstantial 48 dps loss suffered by similarly fit brawling VNIs, CCP has delivered on their promise to weaken the Away-From-Keyboard ratting income without substantially hurting the ship as a combat vessel.
For a lot of people who were using VNI ratting as their sole means of producing income to support their PVP or other activities, and relied upon it for self-sufficiency, this is going to hurt. There’s no two ways about that, and there’s frankly little to be done about it now that the change is made.
It’s well within the meta that New Eden should be as Thomas Hobbes likened it in his work Leviathan:
(Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes, April 1651, Ch 13 – The Harvard Classics, 1909-14)
|Hereby it is manifest that, during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man. For ‘war’ consisteth not in battle only or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known, and therefore the notion of ‘time’ is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain but in an inclination thereto of many days together, so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is ‘peace.’||8|
|Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time or war where every man is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.||9|
Or, as CCP Falcon perhaps more eloquently put it:
At the end of the day, ultimately the people that CCP set out to hurt are hurting. Though I am under no illusion that this has in any way stopped the activities of botters or even slowed them down; but it has hurt the amount of money they can generate in the same time frame, with the same tactics and tools, as they used to.
We know this because of the price drop (video) we observed on the VNI when the Drifter Invasions began in June. As soon as it became apparent that Drifters would warp to anomalies and start killing ratters, we saw the supply available on the market increase and prices fall. That said, the market defied my expectations: I had expected the price of the VNI would continue a free-fall into the Null-sec blackout, but the prices stabilised mid-July and have held steady throughout and has even begun to recover.
We have already seen the adaptability of botters, moving their alts into low and high-sec and using them to mass-farm mining sites, anomalies, and asteroid belts as another way to fill their wallets.
So, are the botters out? No. Are they rethinking their strategies? Yes. Is it getting harder for them to make the same gains by exploiting our game and some players’ need for immediate gratification? Yes.
Are the active ratters and those who want to play the game passively really affected all that much? Not really.
If anything, the VNI is an even better ship for running abyssal sites today than it was, which benefits everyone.
This is a win-win in my book, and I welcome our new savage overlords.
CCP is dead. Long live CCP.
I knew I would have fun in this VNI, even if there were things I could do differently with the fit. A corp-mate suggested I should swap the drone durability rig for a Nanobot Accelerator, lose the Nosferatu, and replace the afterburner with a Micro Warp Drive. The MWD definitely helped me to pounce better, and the accelerator was definitely the right move. However, with the MWD losing the Nosferatu really hurt because even pulsing the prop mod, I kept running out of capacitor in fights. However, the fit overall has me very, very impressed.
I decided to take it out for a late night roam on my way back to Solitude for the evening, hoping to fight anyone I find along the way, and my route home took me through Syndicate.
I thought, “What the hell, I’ll stop in PC9-Ay and mess with some Unistas* and see if they’re up for some content.” *Unistas are what EVE University students typically call themselves. This was after 07:30 EVE, so I wasn’t expecting many people in the area to be online.
So I jumped into system, warped to one of my old pings from my days with the University, and then proceeded to try to bait a few out. As it turns out, a corp-mate of mine was hanging out in the station and as I issued some challenges – I just wanted to test the fit – they invited me to join them. (This is not unusual in my roams.)[ 2019.07.27 07:14:51 ] Abraham Schereau > Tengu and Nightmare in X-P
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:03 ] Jurius Doctor > Tell you what. I’ll 1v2 the Caracals if you don’t bring anyone else in
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:15 ] Jurius Doctor > Stop in structure. Fair fight.
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:41 ] Jack Heck > can I bring my drake?
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:51 ] Jurius Doctor > Only if you paint it pink and call it Tutu
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:56 ] Ithugor Wells > ok, sure
[ 2019.07.27 07:17:59 ] Abraham Schereau > Ithugor nd myself in caracls
[ 2019.07.27 07:18:00 ] Rheaha Preynar > cute
[ 2019.07.27 07:19:04 ] Abraham Schereau >or we can try to get the nightmare and Tengu in X-P
[ 2019.07.27 07:19:37 ] Jurius Doctor > You guys in Mumble?
[ 2019.07.27 07:19:42 ] Ithugor Wells > yeah
[ 2019.07.27 07:19:44 ] Jurius Doctor > Let me join and you can drag me to fleet
We proceed to gatecamp the PC9- gate to the adjoining system, but the Tengu scouts us out and neither him nor his buddy want to come play. Many disappoint, such sad.
So we decided to switch tactics and while we had a bunch of dudes together go for a late roam into Placid.
Which is where we ran into this fine sir:
Now, it’s important to realize that while he maybe could have focused more on dps, that’s one heck of a hull-tank.
Vni Nerf Build
That’s riding the edge of 200,000 EHP with 60% resists! And because the Brutix Navy is still a beast, even without magstabs it still pours out 511 dps without drones. And he had 5 Warrior IIs.
My little VNI face-tanked that, and the damage from his drones, and it still took 8 of us nearly two minutes to kill him flying a kitchen-sink composition. Overall a good trade on the loss of a Hecate (Thanks, Arrek!) It was a close fight for me, and he nearly had me beat, but it went really well. A great fight overall, and I give my thanks to Red Roding Little for being out for some content.
In sum, I would say that if you’re looking for a modification of this fit? Go for an enduring MWD and step the Nos down to a small faction Nosferatu.
Fly dangerous, friends!
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Analysis: Spring Update Nerfs FAX, Capital Balance, and PVE
CCP announced on Wednesday, March 13 a forthcoming balance update that will reduce the effectiveness of many popular ship types, make some easier to kill, and lower the insurance payouts on others. The largest changes will affect capital ships – including the Rorqual capital mining platform – but some subcapitals will also see significant adjustments. INN reported a summary of the announcement, and with more than 1500 comments on the associated forum feedback thread, this article will examine some implications of the proposed changes.
CCP outlined possible changes to capital logistics platforms in the summer of 2018 after hinting for many months that such measures were under consideration. Response from the player community regarding Force Auxiliary nerfs was largely supportive, which may have contributed to the developer’s decision to weaken FAX effectiveness even further than was initially proposed. Whereas CCP had previously planned to increase both the duration and capacitor need of Capital Remote Armor Repair and Shield Boosting modules while reducing total bonus of the Triage module, yesterday’s announcement instead laid out a system of diminishing returns for all remote repair and capacitor transmitter modules.
According to CCP’s calculations, reps will be 80% effective with 15 capital repair modules (or five FAX) on the same target. Effectiveness drops to 50% with 38 capital reps (ten or eleven FAX). CCP have scaled the diminishing return to total repair applied so, for example, small remote repair modules do not negate the effectiveness of capital modules on the same target. This mechanic, though it was designed to address capital logistics balance, will affect subcap logistics as well. It is difficult at this time to determine how significant this impact will be, though CCP did need to clarify in the feedback thread that Remote Armor and Shield modules will have separate diminishing returns. As a result of this clarification, Goonswarm Military Director Asher Elias stated on the March 16 Meta Show that he feels this provides a significant bonus to the Erebus and a lesser bonus to other armor supercapital ships, as they can fit shield-tanking midslot modules without affecting their primary armor tank, receiving maximum benefit with very little downside.
Notably, CCP did not implement a change some players had anticipated to prevent FAX from repairing subcapital ships, so depending on how players adapt to these incoming changes, this may still be on the horizon.
Titans, Dreadnoughts, and High Angle Weapons
High Angle Weapons, capital-sized modules featuring high tracking capabilities for use against subcapital ships, are used by both dreadnoughts and titans to target subcapital ships. However, CCP suggested that the anti-subcap role of dreadnoughts is reasonably well balanced at present, whereas titans are able to apply far too much damage when HAW-fit for a similar role. The developer will cut the damage multiplier for all HAW modules in half, then offset the penalty for dreadnoughts by giving a 100% bonus to HAW damage while in Siege Mode. As a result, dreadnoughts will be the only capital ship type to retain the full damage potential of these weapons.
The effect on titans will primarily be felt in situations where pilots wish to clear hostile interdictors and other tackle without relying on subcapital reinforcements to do the job for them. This process will be significantly more difficult with HAW-fit titans producing half the DPS they used to – and applying only a fraction of that DPS to the small tackling subcapitals due to destroyer and cruiser signature radius and speed. In spite of CCP’s efforts to spare dreadnoughts from negative effects, an obvious consequence of this change is that dreadnought pilots will need to activate their Siege Module and sit motionless for five minutes every time they want to use these weapons effectively. This largely defeats the point of HAW-fit dreads, which are often deployed in a more mobile role than long-range fit dreads that can generally afford to park in Siege Mode while shooting structures or other capital and supercapital ships.
CCP also targeted dreadnoughts for a reduction in insurance payout, which previously had been quite generous. Indeed, Platinum insurance currently returns nearly the entire value of a dreadnought hull. This will be reduced by 33%, making losses more consequential. The days of disposable dread-bombs jumping deep into hostile territory to dunk a tackled supercapital, with Fleet Commanders and line pilots willing to suffer heavy losses due to the largesse of the insurance system, may soon come to an end. As an aside for anyone paying insurance for their titans, the associated insurance payouts will be cut in half, so you may want to consider whether this remains a worthwhile proposal.
Teraterm wait. Carriers and Supercarriers
Both carriers and supercarriers will experience the same insurance reductions as dreadnoughts and titans, with carrier payouts reduced by 33% and supercarrier payouts by 50%. As noted above with regard to dreadnoughts, these changes will almost certainly cause alliances to be more cautious with their capital and supercap reserves, only deploying them for objectives with enough strategic value to justify the risk of disastrous losses no longer underwritten by sturdy insurance policies.
CCP also added a nerf to fighter application that the developer claims is intended to handicap their effectiveness against subcapitals. Fighters will see an increase in explosion radius of 15% and explosion velocity reduced by 30%. In layman’s terms, this means that attack damage will more greatly disperse against smaller targets, particularly fast-moving targets. This will make it difficult for carrier and supercarrier pilots to continue applying damage effectively against tackle and other small subcapitals – and also many NPC rats (more on that later).
Vni Fit After Nerf
Finally, the Networked Sensor Array, a powerful module that increases the scan resolution of carriers and supercarriers, will now disable the ability to warp during its 60-second cycle. This too will have an impact on ratting capital pilots, who will now be forced to make a choice about whether they can justify such immobility, without affecting the large-scale PVP battles that tend to happen over a single location.
Judging by comments on the official feedback thread, players were very eager indeed to see CCP’s plans to nerf the capital mining ship. Citing long-term market instability, perhaps caused by inflation due to a flood of ores that were once relatively scarce, CCP has reduced the yield of ‘Excavator’ Mining Drones from 1000m3 to 800m3 and lengthened the harvest cycle of ‘Excavator’ Ice Harvesting Drones from 250s to 310s. Rorquals will become easier to kill and more expensive to lose with reduction of the PANIC module duration to a base of 4 minutes (6 minutes at maximum skills), 50% and 46.5% reductions to the shield booster bonus provided by T1 and T2 Industrial Cores, and larger volume for ‘Excavator’ drones – 1100m3 (compared to the current 750m3), meaning that only three will fit in a ‘Wetu’ Mobile Depot rather than all five. Rorquals using ‘Excavators’ will now drop or lose at least two of them when destroyed in space.
CCP attempts to compensate for this battery of nerfs by slightly boosting the mining foreman burst bonus (up from 25% to 30% for T1, 36% from 30% for T2) in hopes that more players will utilize the Rorqual in a supportive role for a mining fleet instead of viewing it as the endgame solo mining platform. This was, in fact, the role it performed prior to the introduction of ‘Excavator’ drones in the Ascension expansion of December 2016. It may be significant that this is the only section of the devblog in which CCP acknowledges that further changes may implemented if these ones produce unintended consequences for the mining landscape or the economy of EVE.
Vni Nerf Eve
Seemingly leaving no stone unturned, CCP fixed its gaze upon an assortment of subcapitals to which nerfs and buffs were applied for various reasons. All changes can be found in the announcement (linked at the top), but the most significant ones are the removal of the Vexor Navy Issue’s drone max velocity bonus, an increase in the VNI’s signature radius from 135m to 145m, and the reduction of the Gila’s drone HP role bonus from 500% to 250%. Many readers will note that the VNI and Gila are among the most potent and ubiquitous ships in EVE for PVE activities ranging from low-level ratting to Abyssal sites. Without offering any specific reasons, CCP expressed that changes to these very popular platforms are intended “to help make room for new options.”
Some other subcapital changes to note are the increase in powergrid for the Corax destroyer, which may be enough to provide a competitor to Talwar, and also a series of small nerfs to the currently-dominant Ferox battlecruiser. The changes to the Ferox will make it easier to hit due to an increased signature radius and decreases in base velocity and agility numbers, while the addition of a million kilograms of mass will see Ferox fleets become more difficult to maneuver through wormholes. However, the Ferox has not seen any reduced offensive capabilities, so it will still be a platform of choice to combat Heavy Assault Cruisers, and other battlecruisers.
CCP acknowledges that capital balance has been a persistent and difficult part of the game’s ongoing development, and most players who have spent a significant amount of time outside of highsec will recognize this to be quite true. Some of the changes planned for the spring balance pass are manifestly necessary: the insurance payouts for dreadnoughts and carriers have long been exploited by nullsec alliances to enable bold actions they would not have considered if the losses carried any real financial impact. Likewise, virtually all of EVE has risen in opposition to the current dominance of the Rorqual as a solo mining platform, and it is clear that continuing adjustments are necessary to bring the ship back in line with CCP’s expectations for it.
However, the proposed changes also broadcast obvious secondary effects and unintended consequences. For example, HAW nerfs change the role of dreadnoughts in spite of CCP’s stated goal of sparing them from the effects of a change in balance to titans using the same weapon type. It is difficult to imagine dreadnought pilots activating their Siege Module for a mandatory five minute halt every time they need to use HAWs without suffering a 50% damage penalty. Similarly, carrier and supercarrier pilots will find their ratting activities hampered by nerfs intended to make those ships less effective at opposing subcapital ships in PVP combat. The new warp-disabling effect of the Networked Sensor Array seems designed specifically to punish PVE pilots who use carriers to run lucrative nullsec anomalies (this is one specific change that may be intended to hurt the low-hanging fruit of the botting tree, by hurting those botters not willing or able to change their code, though of course CCP would never confirm such a thing). Along with adjustments to the respawn rates of such anomalies seemingly intended to make ratting less profitable, these adjustments may impact the engagement of players who make most of their money from such activities.
Such a conclusion is difficult to avoid considering CCP nerfed even the lowly VNI – a staple of ratting income for new nullsec pilots. Given the number of pilots who depend on the ability to fund the advanced subcapital ships and capital ship types utilized by nullsec alliances through VNI ratting, it is not difficult to imagine that many will feel that CCP has aimed these nerfs squarely at them and potentially disengage from pursuing opportunities in EVE at all. The skill gap – and cost gap – between VNI ratting and carrier ratting is high enough that this outcome seems likely, particularly considering that carrier ratting has been noticeably nerfed through this update. Finally, CCP’s nerf of the Gila – one of the most popular ships for running the Abyssal sites, in which the developer has invested so much time and clearly hopes for greater engagement from players – seems almost an afterthought designed to irritate the players who are working hardest to make Abyssal content successful for EVE.
Vni Nerf Eve
As CCP acknowledges, time will tell whether the updates will achieve something approaching their desired effects. For now, players continue to contemplate what these far-reaching changes will entail for the balance of EVE Online.
Vni Nerf Gun
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