CCP has just released a devblog about Team Super Friends' more recent work. A large part of the blog covers changes to kill rights and wars, which will be covered in another article. Some small but significant module changes were thrown in at the very end of this blog that may raise some eyebrows...
It's been a while now since the Reactive Armour Hardeners and Ancillary Shield Boosters were introduced, and the consensus-by-fire is in. While RAHs have a significant upside - they suffer no stacking penalties with regular hardeners - their high cap use (made worse by their associated skill) has not made them popular. On the other hand, ASBs have proven to be wildly popular, with many players even considering them overpowered. To see their effectiveness, particularly in small gang situations, one had only to look at their popularity in the last Alliance tournament. By contrast, the RAH has mostly been limited to use on max-tank capitals, where the upside is welcome and the downside less relevant. Ultimately, the balance of power has shifted that much more towards shield tanks at a time when armour tanks could certainly use some help.
Thankfully, CCP is responding. In Retribution, the RAH will receive a couple of buffs. Their resistances will shift by 6% per cycle, up from 3%. Additionally, the Armour Resistance Phasing Skill will now reduce cap use, rather than effectively increase it as before. On the other hand, ASBs are seeing several nerfs. The cycle time for XL ASBs is increasing from 4 to 5 seconds. Additionally, all ASBs are seeing their capacitor usage increased by 40%, and cap booster capacity reduced by 30%. While the reduction in capacity and increase in capacitor use combine as a blanket nerf and serve to reinforce the "emergency" nature of the module, the cycle time extension on the XL booster is aimed squarely at multi-ASB battleship fits.
Target spectrum breakers, which were supposedly going to change blob warfare, have been curiously non-existent on Tranquility. This maybe because they have ridiculous signature resolution penalties, or that they take the slot of something that could be significantly more useful. In their wisdom, CCP have decided to reduce activation time to 8 seconds, and the scan resolution penalty to 25%. It is difficult to imagine that these buffs will do much, however, as the biggest downside remains: In this "Age of Logistics" (only enhanced by the addition of Tech 1 logistics frigates and cruisers), the last thing you want to do when under fire is break everyone's locks.
Salvage drones will be added. Small-sized drones with a base salvage success of 3% that can be increased to 13% with the associated salvage drone skill to level five, and the same 10 second cycle time as normal salvage modules. These stats will be respectable given you will likely be flying five of these at once means that it will take on average two cycles to succeed in any salvage attempt. These drones come with some advantages and disadvantages. On the downside, they leave the salvage in the wreck, requiring players to collect it themselves. They're also incapable of salvaging sleeper wrecks or more difficult targets such as player or officer wrecks, although most of those cases matter less to the probable users. On the other hand, there are few players to whom they will not be a welcome addition. For example, marauder pilots blitzing missions often favor three tractor beams to loot anything they can while killing as fast as possible. And even those with a dedicated salvage pilot will appreciate them, thanks to another change: the addition of a 25m3 drone bay to the Noctis.
The micro jump drive was an original idea that had potential to change fleets up a bit and perhaps allow brawler BS to make a return. CCP has announced the final (maybe?) points about their function. Technically they are similar to a 100MN MWD, with effectively identical fitting and cap requirements, though they only cause a 150% sig bloom as opposed to 500%. The module spools up in 12 seconds (reduced to 8 with the skill at 5) and shoots you 100km in the direction you're pointing, maintaining your initial heading and velocity. The final clincher: this module is not affected by bubbles or warp disruptors, only by warp scramblers.
The most obvious use for the module is as an escape tool. Align your fleet, hit the spool up, and then (thanks to the retained initial velocity) warp almost instantly to safety.
In most fleet fights, the most difficult part is holding down your opponents. This is all the more difficult in low-sec where bubbles are non-existent, but CCP clearly intended this module for larger fleet battles. Most battles are spent with FCs trying frantically to bubble an enemy fleet. On one hand, creating a module that makes this even more difficult can be seen as a short-sighted decision. Given that the fitting requirements are almost identical to the 100MN MWDs in use now, it would be easy to adapt this to existing BS doctrines. On the other hand, battleships rarely fight alone. Modern fleets of any sort are accompanied by logistics, recons and other support ships, all of which would be left behind. The fact that the full name of the module is "Large Micro Jump Drive" implies that CCP may add other sizes "Soon™", but until then it seems likely that the module's usefulness will be limited.
Once CCP does add smaller versions of the MJD, maybe things change. Long-dead doctrines such as RRBS fleets become viable again, diversifying the field. Perhaps "sniper" (in the sense of ability to engage at 150km or so) doctrines such as rokhs or napocs become more popular. Hit and run groups based on Tier 3 BCs could get a boost in the form of heightened mobility. Perhaps even doctrines not based on mobility adopt the module, if only to counter the mobility it offers to opposing doctrines.
Or not. Only time will tell. The MJD will see more actual use than the Target Spectrum Breaker, though, thanks to one tiny detail. The module's spool-up phase continues even while cloaked, making it potentially very useful for Blackops BS.