CCP Fozzie has posted the next round of changes for Tiericide, which means battlecruisers are next on the block! The goal of this round is to equalize Tier 1 and Tier 2 battlecruisers, re-branding them as "Combat". Like the smaller ship classes, "Combat" vessels are intended to be well balanced, providing the pilot with a good mix of offense and defense. The Tier 3 battlecruisers form the "Attack" class and will not be changed.
The Prophecy is already capable of fielding a brick tank in excess of 120k EHP. That's about to get a whole lot bigger, thanks to 617 extra base HP and a 7th low slot. It’s also one of two battlecruisers to change weapon systems, morphing into a drone boat with a 10% bonus to damage and hitpoints. In keeping with the Amarrian drone philosophy, it only gets 75 bandwidth, but a 225m3 drone bay, so an endless horde of light or medium drones is the name of the game, with pilot's choice of either missiles or lasers as a secondary weapon system. In addition to the major changes, the Prophecy also gets a minor buff to capacitor capacity, and sheds a little bit of weight for a modest mobility buff.
Before moving on, let's emphasize the magnitude of this change. The current Prophecy can do (with maxed skills) around 300 DPS with Scorch and a 120k EHP tank now, or 500 DPS with a much smaller tank, around 75k EHP. Post-patch? Fit the same six slot tank with tackling gear and HAM Launchers and while it's a tight fit, you get closer to 125k EHP and around 440 DPS. Or lighten up the tank for more damage mods and get 550 DPS while still weighing in near 95k EHP. It's gonna be scary.
Relative to the Prophecy, the Harbinger gets a set of fairly bland changes. It loses a turret and makes up for it with a boost to the damage per level bonus. At lower levels this is a net nerf, but it breaks even with the battlecruiser skill at IV and pulls ahead for a modest buff at V. The resulting boost to capacitor efficiency is only partially offset by a modest nerf to capacitor recharge rate. An across-the-board EHP nerf stings, but is understandable - the current incarnation of the ship means it has higher base EHP than the Prophecy. Furthermore, while the +25m3 drone bay adds some welcome flexibility, the added mass and lower align time means lower mobility for an already slow ship. Overall, it's a handful of tweaks that probably leans slightly towards a nerf.
Early feedback on the forums doesn't seem overly thrilled about the Ferox, but I think it comes off pretty well... though it would be hard for it not to get better, given its current state. A seventh turret combined with a fifth low slot and a little extra fitting to use them are the most welcome changes, and the buffs to agility and reduction in mass don't hurt either. Altogether, it makes for a fairly compelling blasterboat. Between drones and a rack of Neutron Blasters, you can hit ~570 DPS to 12+14km with Null or a whopping ~750 to 6.6+5.1km with Void, all while maintaining a 75k EHP buffer. The Brutix can be fit to do a similar tank or better DPS, but comes up a bit short trying to do both at once (no pun intended), so it does a great job of highlighting the advantages of a shield tanking blaster ship. Just don't forget the support; the Ferox can't tackle on its own.
On a related note, medium railguns continue to be horrible, which casts doubt on them ever being used to really take advantage of the optimal range bonus. That, however, is an issue with the gun itself more than the hull. CCP could start by looking at the fitting requirements - you find yourself hard pressed to fit 250mm railguns to anything, even if you wanted to.
The changes to the Drake are far more significant than they appear. The bonuses stay the same, including, surprisingly, the kinetic damage bonus, something CCP has claimed they’re trying to get away from. A modest nerf to shield hitpoints takes the top edge off the tank, while extra mass and nearly a full extra second added to the align time means the ship is going to get noticeably less mobile. The fitting also gets a shave. Taking away 10 grid and CPU is more significant than it appears. Many popular fits run very tight on one or the other, so pilots are either going to have to compromise their fits or start plugging in implants.
As an aside, the Rapid Light Launchers are still missing from the bonus, though that might be an oversight; the Caracal picked up such a bonus during its revamp.
The Brutix gets a lot of love, starting with a sixth lowslot and a bit of extra fitting to use it. That significantly extends fitting options and lets it function better outside of a glass cannon brawler role. More armor and a significantly larger (albeit slower recharging) capacitor only sweeten the deal, and the cherry on top is a nice boost to nobility. The hull drops a million kilos (7.5%) off its mass and gets a buff to align time as well, which add up to a nice boost to speed with an MWD active - it'll go from 1189m/s to about 1263m/s with an active MWD and max skills.
The Myrmidon moves back closer to its original incarnation. While it loses its sixth turret (along with the high slot and grid to fit it in), it picks up +25 bandwidth along with +25m3 to its drone bay. That re-opens the ability to field a partial flight of Heavy Drones which in turn represents an enormous boost in damage output - five T2 Hammerhead IIs (no DDA) is 238 DPS, compared to 380 DPS from four Ogre II. Needless to say, no one will be missing that sixth turret. In keeping with the redefined Gallentean drone philosophy, however, the drone bay can accomodate a few spare heavy drones or a flight of light and medium drones, but not both. The armor hitpoints receive a small nerf to bring it in line with the Brutix, though it's nothing major. While the limited drone bay space is a potential handicap and the utility of active armor tanking is questionable, the Myrmidon is still without a doubt one of the big winners here.
This one is interesting. The Cyclone shifts away from being a turret focused split-weapon ship to more of a pure missile ship. Many players seem to be making the obvious comparison to the Drake, pointing out that five launchers leaves the Cyclone underpowered. I don't agree. Five launchers and three BCU II with an ROF bonus plus a full flight of medium drones (thanks to the +10m3 drone bay with bandwidth to match) is 520 DPS; unlike the Drake, it's not tied to a single damage type. That's a bit on the low end, but the new layout leaves two extra highslots. Those can be filled with either a pair of turrets for an extra 60-80 DPS, or a couple of utility modules such as neuts. Given that a sixth launcher only adds 73 DPS (assuming three BCU II and max skills as before), I favor the five launcher with utility layout instead.
If the Hurricane goes live like this, it might be best to drag it out back and shoot it to put it out of its misery. It was already nerfed in Retribution, with the top edge of its powergrid chopped off, and there’s little to be happy for now. The second utility high is gone, the capacitor gets a lot smaller (although that’s offset by a significant buff in recharge rate), and it gets a little heavier and slower. The only real bright side is a modest buff to its armor HP, but it’s too small to get excited over.
The biggest winner here, in my mind, is the Prophecy. The Myrmidon is close, but the aforementioned issues do hold it back. The Ferox, Brutix and Cyclone all make out quite well in their own right. Meanwhile, the nerfs to the Drake are probably necessary, though we'll have to see what the real-world implications of that fitting nerf translate into. The short ends of the stick go to the Harbinger and the Hurricane. While the Hurricane's nerf might be understandable, it might have gone a bit too far. The Harbinger, on the other hand, has people scratching their heads while arguing it get a rework. Fortunately, we've got what will be a month or so of balancing and testing ahead of us, so if you’d like to follow the changes to see if CCP agrees, the thread is here. If you just want to get in and try them for yourself, stay tuned - CCP will be pushing the changes to Buckingham soon!