Blappage, Wormhole Space, and Jumping the Gun

If there's one thing wormhole players love, it's a good technical argument about game mechanics. There's a bit of a disagreement between w-space pilots going on right now, and it centers around the apparently controversial tactic of 'dreadnought blapping' in pilots' home systems. It's rather ironic that w-space PvP groups would be debating the legitimacy of dreadnought usage considering that wormhole combat is centered around small gangs in small ships... but here we are.

Dread Blapping and Its Implications

Like the OP in that thread, most pilots probably don't know what dread blapping is. It's simple, really. Using a combination of stasis webifiers and target painters, organized fleet members can stop a ship practically dead in its tracks and blow up its signature radius to multiple times its normal size. Nothing new here, right? Right, except that when this ship is made stationary and effectively gigantic, it is easy prey to a well-placed dreadnought sitting nearby. Dreads were conceived for the purpose of destroying large, stationary objects and saavy players have figured out how to make smaller ships fit the bill. Thus, dread blapping was born.

In nullsec, this is less of a problem. It's certainly a popular tactic, but outside of decidedly lopsided battles, fights involving capitals will usually require the dreadnoughts on field to focus on destroying the enemy capitals, while the subcaps support them and fight the enemy's subcaps. Both sides have the option of fielding as many capitals as they can, and there is no disadvantage to either side, beyond the fact that one group will usually have many more capitals available than the other.

Per usual, things are a bit different in wormhole space. With extremely rare exceptions, wormhole mass limits mean that capital fights are confined to C5 and C6 systems, and even then, the biggest wormholes will only allow three capitals to transit before collapsing. In addition, wormhole systems are vastly too far apart from each other for jump drives, making wormholes themselves the only option for moving capitals around. This bottleneck strictly limits the scale of an impromptu engagement, and unless you happen to be fighting in your home system, opponents are all subjected to the great equalizer of hard limitations on capitals.

If, on the other hand, one of the participants is in their home system, they have a distinct and major advantage. For those who live in the higher-class C5 and C6 systems, there is a sizable capital reserve available to most major and even minor PvP groups, and they're generally not afraid to throw a cap or five at fleets sitting on their static wormhole. With this overwhelming advantage, dreads become more effective still. Six Moros can destroy almost two dozen strategic cruisers every minute whereas an attacker could manage about half that, if they're skilled and lucky.

This is not to say that all fights in home systems involve the defender bringing loads of capitals. Far more often the residents don't have that many capital pilots online, or they simply prefer to have a fair fight. The possibility exists, though, and as w-space continues to grow in population and wealth, it's likely that we will see overwhelming dread based tactics more often.

One Little Problem

Not everyone is happy with this development. Buried deep within the latest CSM minutes, as a brief mention on page 50, was the summarized exchange between CSM member Two step and the EVE development team regarding dread blapping and the possibility of eliminating it for cruisers and below. No real progress was made in solving the "issue" since the problem wasn't well understood. The participants couldn't even resolve whether it was a dreadnought issue or a wormhole issue in the time that they had, and the vague promise of informal, future discussions was offered so that they could all move on to other topics and stay on schedule.

After release, this passage went mostly unnoticed for a couple days, but it was only a matter of time until someone's alt started asking questions in the Wormholes subforum. A few people, myself included, seconded the request for a response, and Two step replied less than three hours later:

My issue with dread blapping is that there isn't a counter to it other than 'bring more stuff'. I am fine with dreads killing caps and battleships, but if I show up in small sig cruisers, dreads shouldn't be dominant.

FYI, this isn't something that I just came up with out of thin air, this has been a frequent complaint I have heard from many different corps and alliances. What makes EVE PVP great is that you should always be able to counter a specific fleet setup without just bringing 2x the numbers. That isn't the case with dreads + webs/painters.

Two Fights

In the thread that followed, we saw two camps emerge: those who claimed that dread tactics are uncounterable and those who saw counters in ECM, neuting, and increased transversal. Surely, we don't want to nerf a tactic if it has a ready counter, but if none exists, we have to find out what's wrong and focus on that. Talk is cheap, and the first real evidence presented on either side was found in this post referencing fights between Exhale. and NOHO and AHARM and Exhale.

Looking at these battle reports and especially the nitty-gritty of the kills themselves, two things become immediately apparent:

  1. Exhale's fight against NOHO was lost without dread blappage being a major issue. They lost one ship primarily to dreads, and it was the larger-sig Damnation. Try harder next time.
  2. Exhale's fight against AHARM was lost to Moros guns specifically. Yes, there's a single killmail where two Revelations get a decent hit, but really no more than five Guardians should be able to rep without the 32k Moros hit.

It would appear, then, that the issue isn't dread blapping per se, but rather that the Moros has insane tracking speed. In a previous post, some numbers on tracking were presented, putting into perspective the massive tracking advantage that the Moros has over all other dreads (more than double the next-best Revelation). This, combined with far superior DPS, makes the Moros the one and only vessel capable of reliable dread blapping to the point where it becomes overpowered.

Let's Talk About This

Part of the incredulity that many pilots experienced when they first heard about Two step discussing a nerf with the devs was that it came as a surprise to many well-connected individuals. As best I can tell, those pilots who have been complaining to Two step about dread blappage have mostly kept their concerns close to the chest - even from their own members. Nobody that I come into contact with regularly has mentioned any concerns, and this was the experience for the people I've spoken with as well.

I think it goes without saying that if there was an open conversation about the issue, people would have been less reactionary. I can only hope that the next time Two step sets out to propose a nerf to the ship balancing team, he will get input from a more representative sample of those he represents, and not rely solely on the opinions of those who want it done. After all, if the CSM wants communication from the devs, why wouldn't the players want it from their CSM reps?

Whatever your opinion, if you'd like to take part in the conversation, go post in the thread. It's still active and I'm in favor of a collaborative process. I think we all deserve a chance to discuss this before we start pushing for a solution to what may or may not be a problem worth fixing.

Straight outta J115405, I'm a wormhole resident and director in Hard Knocks Inc. When not writing about wormhole PvP and events in the greater w-space community, I enjoy jokes about Kazakhstan and the occasional glass of delicious tears.