CCP has posted the changes to Black Ops that will be implemented in Retribution 1.1. Those changes are:
- Increase the base jump range of all Black Ops ships to 3.5 light years (equal to that of Titans)
- Reduce the mass multiplier used for Covert Jump Portal fuel costs from 0.00000018 to 0.000000135 (Reduces the fuel cost of covert bridges by 25%)
- Increase the fuel bay on all Black Ops to 1250m3 (25% increase)
While these are just numbers, it's important to understand how major some of these changes are.
The Minor Changes
The increase in the fuel bay size equates directly into a 25% buff to fuel capacity, from 6,666 units of isotopes up to 8,333. Meanwhile, the mass multiplier is reduced by 25%. The effects of that are equally straightforward - fuel consumption scales with mass, so a smaller multiplier means less fuel per jump. However, it's not all good news - taking full advantage of the increased bridge range results in an overall higher fuel consumption. For example, take a Hound. With a mass of 1.42 million kilograms (including the added mass from the MWD), it currently costs 207 units of isotopes to bridge the ship to the maximum 4.5 light year range. A bridge to that same range after the changes only costs 155 units, but bridging to the new max range (7.875 light years) costs 271 isotopes. The net effect is actually a reduction in the total number of max-range bridges a Black Ops ship can make, though it's small; if the pilot wanted to strand his ship, he could bridge that Hound to max range 30 times after the patch, as compared to 32 times now.
The Major Change
Enough about the numbers. What does the range buff mean in real terms? For this example, I'm going to use the system Q-CAB in Tribute. The system is a regional gate to Venal, and the distance between the two regions is relatively low.
In the picture below you see the current Black Ops bridge range. Systems with the red squares and circles are within range of Q-CAB. Note how the Venal cannot be reached to the north, and large chunks of Vale of the Silent are inaccessible as well.
Now we're showing the current Titan range, and future Black Ops range. Many systems in Venal are now accessible, as are many more systems in Vale of the Silent.
The net effect is increased force projection for cloaking ships, including bomber gangs, which translates to more small gang opportunities. That's something I believe CCP wants. As the bomber FC for the CFC, I'm eagerly awaiting this change. While I'm sure some people want the ships themselves to be more capable in combat, to be able to warped cloaked, etc, I'll take this as a win.