CCP Rise posted the first pass on Battleship Tiericide today. As with previous tiericide initiatives, this is only a first pass, and if players bring up something significant that he may have overlooked (see the first iteration on the Harbinger, for example) that will be addressed. But, let's take a look at what we've got now.
The overall goal is like past tiericide iterations - eliminate the "tiers" and instead group the battleships into "Attack" and "Combat" roles. Each race will end with one Attack battleship and two Combat battleships, except for Caldari, who only get one Combat hull, but also get the only Disruption battleship in the form of the Scorpion. This hints at the future possibility of new battleships, but I would not expect those until a much later date. Across the board, Attack battleships will have hitpoint numbers similar to Tier 2 battleships now, with a focus on speed, agility, and damage application and/or projection. Combat battleships, on the other hand, will have hitpoints similar to Tier 3 battleships (and indeed, all Tier 3 battleships are now Combat battleships) and will favor a balanced mixed of offense and defense.
Here are links to each of the four threads, and then we'll begin!
Before diving into the battleships themselves, it's worth noting that both the Abaddon and Rokh had their resist bonuses nerfed to 4% per level. While CCP Rise promised a thread discussing it, it's not up at time of writing. As you'd expect, it results in a roughly 5% reduction in EHP at Battleship V. I'd chalk it up primarily to CCP's ongoing efforts to balance active and passive/remote tanking though. Personally, I think it's good that they're continuing to iterate on this, but at some point a sweeping change will be necessary. So long as remote reps put out reasonable rep numbers, the ability to point an arbitrary number of them that can be perma-run by the user will always trump the local reps, limited as they are by both slots and capacitor.
I (and many others) predicted a shakeup here, given that all three Amarr battleships were some flavor of "lasers and armor", and none of us were disappointed. I absolutely agree with CCP Rise's assessment - had things been left "as is", the Abaddon would have become even more dominant. That's not the case, though.
The Armageddon got the largest changes, morphing as many expected into a drone boat, the ultimate entry in the line of ships started by the Dragoon and Prophecy. The new bonuses are the standard +10% per level to drone damage and hit points, and a very unexpected 10% bonus to neut and nos range. Imagine the way a Dominix is often flown - neuts, tackle gear and an enormous tank - and that's what the Armageddon has become. It picks up a big EHP boost befitting its new role as a Combat battleship, along with a greatly expanded drone bay, a large chunk of capacitor, extra CPU, and five launcher slots to give it the same weapon flexibility as the Prophecy, Arbitrator and Dragoon. To top everything off, the slot layout will be changing up a bit, shedding a high and a low, and picking up one mid; drone battleships get 18 slots, as opposed to 19 like every other ship. Downsides are an increased sig radius and a small nerf to mobility (both are in line with Combat battleships, though) and the loss of 2000 grid. The loss of that grid will restrict fitting options and force compromises if you plan to fit the largest guns, and neuts, and a tank, but I don't see it hurting the ship's viability at all.
The Apocalypse also gets a bit of a makeover. One of the themes of Attack battleships is damage application and projection. To that end, the Apocalypse retains its 7.5% per level optimal range bonus, but swaps the Large Energy Turret cap use bonus for a 7.5% per level tracking speed bonus. A lot of people are predicting that the loss of the cap bonus will be the death of the ship, but I disagree. The Apocalypse has a larger capacitor capacity and recharge rate than the Abaddon, which also lacks the bonus yet is a staple in certain doctrines. Most of the remaining changes are as expected to bring the ship in line with the Attack role; a nerf to EHP, but a buff to mobility and signature radius. One last minor change is a small nerf to the drone bandwidth, though I expect hardly anyone will notice. It retains the 75m3 drone bay, and the post-nerf 50mbit bandwidth still allows pilots to field a flight of medium drones.
Last up is the Abaddon, which is unchanged except for the nerf to its armor resistance bonus. As discussed above, this is approximately a 5% reduction in EHP. Currently, an Abaddon with a Tech II 1600mm plate, three hardeners (explosive, kinetic and thermal), a Damage Control II, three trimarks and Legion bonuses has around 220.5k EHP (assuming max skills for all parties). Post nerf, that drops to 209.2k EHP.
Expect to see the Abaddon continue to form the backbone of certain doctrines post-patch. Beyond that, both the new Apocalypse and Armageddon are highly likely to take support roles in a variety of armor doctrines at least, and the Armageddon will be downright ugly in smaller scale roles as well. Whether the Apocalypse will start to form the backbone of its own new doctrine is an open question, though my money is on "no". While Pandemic Legion does field Navy Apocalypse "Foxcat" fleets, those hulls enjoy a significant EHP bonus as well as other smaller bonuses, and the tracking bonus just doesn't make up for it. I'd be thrilled to be wrong though - doctrinal variation is never a bad thing.
Out of all the races, the Caldari probably change the least. Like the Abaddon, the Rokh does is unchanged but for the nerf to its resist bonus, and like the Abaddon, it comes out to a ~5% loss of EHP.
The Raven is becoming the Caldari Attack battleship, and picks up a nice set of small buffs. The two most notable changes are an extra 1500 grid and 50 CPU, and an extra mid slot, albeit at the cost of a utility high. Combined, those ought to make Torpedos a little easier to fit, and give the ship a bit more flexibility for non-tank mids, or simply a stronger tank. The remaining changes are what is to be expected for an Attack battleship - EHP nerf, signature radius buff, and mobility buff.
The Scorpion is all but unchanged. Extra shields and structure bring it in line with Attack battleships in terms of EHP, and CCP's "round number" initative gives it the same buff to capacitor capacity as the raven.
All told, the Rokh is not going to go away in doctrine fleets any more than the Abaddon will, and the Scorpion (despite the move away from it in CFC fleet doctrines) will continue to be a common sight in fleets. The buffs to the Raven are a very welcome set of changes, but the ship remains underwhelming for now. That's largely a matter of large missiles being a weak weapon system, though, and CCP Rise stated repeatedly that they'll be getting a review in short order, in time for Odyssey if possible.
Update: CCP Rise has removed the stats for both the Megathron and the Hyperion from his post, so expect new versions of those in a couple of days.
The Gallente thread got the most dev attention day one, with plenty of back and forth between CCP Rise and players. CCP Rise described his reasoning for the changes to the Hyperion and Megathron here. In short, he sees both ships as brawlers, but the Megathron as a more flexible ship akin to the Tempest, while the Hyperion is conceptualized as a very focused heavy brawler.
We'll revisit those two in a moment, though, and start with the Dominix. Aiming to make the ship a fully dedicated drone boat, CCP replaced the Hybrid bonus with a 10% bonus to drone optimal range and tracking, to match the existing drone damage and hitpoint bonus. The downside to this is its a big hit to the potential DPS of the Dominix. The live version of the ship can (with a maxed out damage setup) dish out just shy of 1700 DPS, over half of which is from guns. On the other hand, the new ship will still push out 1500 DPS in that same max damage setup, and its drones (normal and sentry alike) will perform significantly better in every role. Overall, it's a very fair tradeoff. On top of the bonus changes, the Dominix picks up the extra EHP, signature radius and (unfortunately) mass characteristic to the Combat line.
The Megathron is probably the less controversial of the two Gallente blaster battleships. It trades a low slot for a mid slot for more flexible fitting options. It also attempts to focus more on gun damage by trading 25mbit of bandwidth and the hybrid damage bonus for a hybrid rate of fire bonus; if you favor heavy drones, the damage output ought to be roughly similar, just more gun focused. The hull gets a small boost to fitting, capacitor size, and mobility, and a small nerf to its EHP, more of a rounding error than anything else. As linked above, CCP Rise is attempting to focus the Megathron more into a flexible Attack ship with a variety of fitting options, and in this he has succeeded reasonably well. One change I'd like to see is a larger gain than the +25 CPU it's already picking up.
The Hyperion, on the other hand, is an abject failure if player feedback is anything to go by. It makes the opposite trade that the Megathron did, picking up a low at the cost of its fifth mid. If the Megathron is supposed to be a flexible utility ship, then the Hyperion is supposed to be a dedicated heavy brawler. In practice, active tanking (armor especially) remains pretty awful, and CCP's love affair with the bonus is going to make the ship difficult to balance until that changes. There's really no way around it.
All told, the Gallente remain the underwhelming race when it comes to battleships. The Megathron is not half bad despite remaining stuck pretty firmly in a solo or small gang role. The new Dominix is a possibility for a fleet doctrine, except for the "vulnerability of sentry drones to bombs" and "we'll revamp drones, Soon™" issues. And similarly, the Hyperion is plagued by the "we'll make active tanking competitive, Soon™" issue. I've seen some good suggestions in the discussion thread, with one of the best (that keeps it within the role) adding a 7.5%/level cap use reduction for armor reps. We'll have to see what CCP Rise does, though.
Last but not least are the Minmatar changes. No overarching comments here, so let's just dive in.
The Typhoon is first up, as the recipient of the most sweeping changes. As expected by many, CCP Rise has transformed it into a missile based ship. The 5% bonus to Cruise Missile and Torpedo rate of fire remains, while the projectile bonus is traded out for a 5% Cruise Missile and Torpedo explosion velocity bonus, essentially enhancing a Typhoon's ability to hurt smaller targets. The downside is a loss of utility. Six launchers and seven highs means limited utility high slot options, while the drone bay can no longer support a full flight of heavy drones. For all that, though, it adds up to a solid brawling ship, and the potential buffs to large missile systems will only make it better.
Next up is the Tempest. The largest change is a considerable EHP buff as befitting its new role as a Combat battleship. That's accompanied by an increase in signature radius, and a little bit of extra grid.
The Maelstrom is entirely unchanged, like most of the other Tier 3 battleships.
There's no reason for the Maelstrom based doctrines to go away, so they're not going to. The Tempest is going to continue to fit into the niches it currently does; don't expect it to supplant the Maelstrom in Alphafleets, despite the EHP buff. The Typhoon is solid and interesting, but like the Raven, it will need the large missile review to reach its full potential.
Final thoughts & Future Speculation
If there are winners and losers when it comes to tiericide, the Gallente are definitely the losers. As mentioned above, expect further work on the Hyperion and possibly Megathron. By contrast, Amarrian battleships are the clear winners here, and I shouldn't need to explain why. The Caldari & Minmatar changes are pretty middle of the road, nothing to excitedly write home about for the most part, but not much to complain about either.
As to the future, CCP Rise has dropped a few hints. Large missiles should be getting a revamp "soon", which probably translates to the summer if possible, Odyssey 1.1 at the latest. Less clear is the drone rework, which was also mentioned, but in less firm terms. It should also surprise no one that a Navy battleship rebalancing will be coming up. Based on the cruiser balancing, expect the Navy ships to get new bonuses to fill in roles currently left vacant. For example, CCP Rise hinted very strongly that the Typhoon Fleet Issue would remain a split bonus ship. In the spirit of the Scythe Fleet Issue, perhaps we'll see a 7/5/8 slot layout that retains the 5/5 weapon slots with the gunnery bonus bumped up to 7.5% per level.
Finally, still unreleased are the mineral usage changes, numbers eagerly awaited by market speculators around Eve. While the Battlecruiser tiericide changes proved to be fairly disappointing in that regard, the reasoning (Attack Battlecruisers are very big to support big guns and thus use more minerals) doesn't really apply to Battleships. Once these changes hit SiSi we'll know for sure, but it's not unreasonable to expect Battleships follow the model of Cruisers, with Attack and Combat classes very similarly priced. If you're planning to invest, you may want to get started before it's too late.