Thursday, May 3, 2012

ATX - relevant ship changes

Well I was going to take a look at the point changes from yesterday's release of the AT X rules...

But I was beaten to the punch, and in much better fashion than I would have done it (I would just have compared it to last year, not all time, so nice work!

Instead I will move forward what I was going to talk tomorrow about.. today! It's like the future man;

Top three major changes to classes of ships that have undergone major overhaul since the last AT, or for that matter been introduced since the last AT.

1. Of course the Gallente changes head this list, only slightly above tier 3 BC's but we will get to them. Gallente ships, well blasters in specific received some major buffs to bring them more "in-line" with the other major weapon systems of each empire. In this buff, blasters and rails received, generally, less fitting requirements, a touch better tracking and better damage. Enhancing their reputation as up close brawlers by quite a large margin.

The impact of this change might be marginal though. Here is my thinking, even though the change is a big one, the actual impact is limited. AT fights have long been dominated by teams that can effectively control the range of the engagement. Hence the long standing affinity for Missiles and last year the Minmatar heavy setups.

Looking at the stats from the last tourney, that can be found here. I see that Minmatar really "led the way" with 700+ ships fielded that were minmatar hulls alone, not to mention the 108 Angel Cartel ships fielded, and the 425 Caldari hulls. Gallente were among the least fielded even when Serpentis(incorrectly labelled "Guardian Angel" in the stat site) are included in their ship totals. Amarr picked up the dead last also because of their lack of ability to effectively counter the speed and range control abilities of missiles and projectiles. As heavy armor tanks, even with amazing tracking, is not enough to base a fleet concept around, or at least one that could reliably kill the premier "Minmatar rush" setups from last year.

However, to argue against the hybrid changes being marginalized... there is one change that made quite a difference, the change to Null ammo. Penalties were removed and falloff was increased, suddenly large blasters with Null ammo could, in some fits, reach easily out to similar ranges as projectiles and, out-damage them in falloff while doing so. maybe we will see more large blaster armed ships, perhaps Shield Vindicators, Talos', Megathrons? Their extra range and DPS might swing the pendulum back in their favor.

2. Tier 3 BC's. Never before been in a AT, but as some (including the rational side of my brain) might argue, are they too flimsy to stand on their own in an Alliance tournament setting? Or (as the pewpewBOOM side of my brian counter argues) will their DPS projection and alpha set them up as the go-to platform in the 6 and 12 man setups?

I think it is unlikely we will see too many victorious 6 man setups around tier 3 BC's. Let's face it, with their current point value of 12 points, you can only field 4 before hitting 48 points. While four Tornado's or two nado's and two Oracle, or Talos or Naga or whatever, might be a scary site, would they be able to chew through the tanks of opposing setups fast enough, before their, little more than cruiser sized EHP, ended in a flashy explosions?

It would be a race for sure, but one that might not end well for the Tier 3 BC. I think that is reflected in their point cost, but the "they do a TON of DPS" side of me still hopes that they will have a chance. Four Talos will do around 4k dps up close, and I don't care who you are, that will dig through ships quickly. It's all just a matter of catching and pinning down the targets at hand, or loading up some of the afore mentioned tasty Null and going to town at range.

In all I think that Tier 3 BC setups will not be 100% effective, but then what is. They will see some victories and losses, but as usual it will depend on their matchups.

3. AF changes... Man, where to start? AF's got their big buff here since the last AT, and what a buff it was, more or less changing the way AF's are flown, fit and utilized. But back to the question, how is this going to affect the composition of setups in the Alliance tournament.

Now if I remember correctly, last year and the year before, the majority of AF's fielded were "Ishkur" class assault ships, in fact I would even say that if you added together all the AF's fielded other than the Ishkur there would still be more Ishkur's than the rest... (turns out I am right, 15 of 21 AF fielded in AT9 were Ishkur and 47 of 77 fielded in AT8 were Ishkur) I think we can all agree that the Ishkur was the go-to AF in previous alliance tournaments. This year, despite their buff they have kept their point value at 4! Think of it this way, if an AF based team is incredibly lucky, they can field 6 AF for 30 points and still have a shot at killing a 4 tier 3 BC setup with relative ease...

As support ships in small fleets AFs now really have a role in ATX. As a hard counter to tier 3 BC and to all large-weapon, no Neut fit BS in the 12 man sized fleets. Their relative low cost, means you can afford to fill out a lot of slots with AF's and for their point value they actually might now be more useful than the Genos inspired love for Stealth Bombers.

Incidentally, Bombers have fallen in popularity over the past two years, down from 135 used two years ago to just 68 last year. I'd attribute this, in large, to the buffs to minmatar weapons allowing distant Cane's and Sleipnirs to remove small ships from the battlefield quickly. Let's not forget that bombers are also 6 points and AF's four. With the higher player caps it seems to encourage the use of three AF vs two Bombers.

I can confidently say that AF's will be fielded more often. The MWD bonus seems to make them the better idea instead of paper thin Inties(3 points), and be more useful. AF's can now put out a decent amount of DPS(Enyo, Wolves, Retri, bharpy) without having to gimp the rest of their fittings too heavily and can, and do form a good tackle and sustained tackle platform to hold targets (like the tier 3 BC) in place for the rest of the fleet to catch up or just whittle down the ship on their own. They can also win 1v1s against the other side's light tackle.

Various other changes have been made as well, including changes to EAF, and a whole host of tweaks and touches done to other ships in the patches since the last AT, but these last three seem to be the most relevant.

I will review some of these changes and see if any will have a direct impact in another post. In the meantime;

See you in space.


  1. Great post. I think the only thing I would have added is the buff to Destroyers too. May end up seeing some Thrasher/Catalysts to round out a fleet.

  2. That was a tough one, if I had done top four changes I would have included the Destroyer changes, but I also think that change warrants it's own post. I still think Destroyers are to "fat" a target to be to much of a difference, still easily hit (at range) by bigger guns, and low overall HP with little speed advantage over t1/t2 frigates means they might not be the best choice. Also Dessies are going to cost 3 points to the frigates 2 points and revamped frigates might actually be more useful.