Saturday, January 19, 2013

ECM Is Broken

For fuck's sake...

In the EVE universe, there are a bunch of dice roll mechanics, mostly tied to non-PVP situations:

-Hack/salvager success
-Loot drops (both from NPC's based off the drop tables and off of a ship destruction)
-Escalations
-Rat spawns

Some would cry that certain things shouldn't be subject to this mighty random number generator in the skybox, especially when talking about a stack of PLEX's in the cargo hold of a ganked shuttle, or super-rare Guardian-Vexors in cargo hold of some noob.

But what really pisses me off is the ECM system. Every other form of electronic warfare has defined strengths and a certain part of combat they affect. There are also direct counters that absolutely aid against said E-war. Here's my breakdown for those of you that don't know:

Warp Disruptors: Will stop a target from warping if their war strength is below 1 (which is most ships).
Counter: Warp core stabilizers, ships with multiple points of warp core stabilization.

Warp Scramblers: 2x warp disruption strength, shorter range, does the same thing as warp disruptor but has the added ability to disable microwarpdrives.
Counter: warp core stabilizer (to warp away), dual-prop (adding an afterburner) to keep velocity high, or just use an afterburner to begin with.

Stasis Webifiers: Reduces the velocity of a ship.
Counter: Navigation skills, propulsion modules.

Energy Neuts: Drains the capacitor of a ship. This adversely affects active tanks the most, but can also disable any active module on a ship that requires cap, including scrams/webs/etc.
Counter: Cap boosters - inject cap directly, cap skills to increase cap faster or have higher base cap, cap batteries now bounce the neuting effect back to the aggressor.

Tracking Disruptors: Decreases the tracking speed and optimal range of turrets. Can be scripted to increase 1 effect more.
Counter: Tracking computers, tracking skills, optimal range skills, tracking enhancers.

Target Painters: Increase the signature radius of a ship, so it "appears" bigger, takes more damage, is locked faster, etc.
Counter: Currently none, but TP's are probably the least common E-war out there. Also, the TP's do not hinder a target directly, like diminishing their DPS/tackle/speed, but must be coupled with weapons that normally wouldn't hurt it as much, like torps to a cruiser. Also, since the TP's make you a bigger target, increasing speed (against missiles) or transversal velocity (against turrets) will help alleviate the incoming damage. This isn't much of a "counter" as it is smart piloting, but it is a defense that WILL have an impact.

Sensor Damps: Decrease the scan resolution and targeting range on a ship. Can be scripted to increase 1 effect more.
Counter: Sensor booster, targeting range and scan resolution skills, signal amplifier, rigs.

Now this brings me to ECM. A little background on the mods above, aside from the Target Painter, every module has a direct counter that WILL help defend against the e-war. If you are damped and turn on your sensor booster, the effect is diminished, same goes with any of the counters I mentioned. ECM is different, in that is it chance-based, and the formula I've recovered is:

C= 1-((1-J/S)^n)
where: C = jam chance 
J = jammer strength 
S = target ship sensor strength 
n = number of jammers used

You now have 4 ways to decrease your chances of being jammed:
  1. Fit an ECCM - active midslot, can be overclocked.
  2. Fit a sensor backup array - lowslot, passive.
  3. Have a fleet booster with the appropriate Infowar command module.
  4. Train the newly-added ECCM skills that increase your base sensor strength.
Now, that is all fine and dandy, if it weren't for what ECM did:

Broke your locks on everything.

Yea, that takes out (most) of your ability to do damage (not counting drones, smartbombs), your ability to provide logistic support, your ability to keep a target affected by any of the above-mentioned E-war, or your ability to keep a ship from cloaking. It takes care of the job of neuting (removing logistics), tracking disruptors (guns can't track if they can't shoot), and sensor dampeners (actually better if you are too close for damps to work) all in one module. I think this is deserving of a nerf.

My Proposal:

Change the lock-breaking to high slot disabling.

Let's fudge some numbers here for a good example. Let's say a racial jammer has a strength of 5, and a target ship has a sensor strength of 5. This would mean the target can not be jammed. However, if you put two racial jammers of the target (with an appropriate stacking penalty like any other e-war), it will lose the use of 4 high slots. This could have a dice-roll to pick which slots you lose, but I prefer a left-most first system, so slot order matters more.

Now, with bonuses applied up the chain to ECCM and ECM alike, the scales keep tipping one way or the other, but a Falcon could put around 4 ECM on a target and remove its ability to use its hislots, whether they be neuts, nos, guns, missiles, salvagers, tractor beams, smartbombs, bombs, jump portal, drone link augmenter, command links, remote reps, etc.

This also allows for a ship to leave an ECCM off until needed, to gain back the use of hislots, much like a sensor booster can be used to gain damped targeting range.

Whines:
"This will make Falcons useless!" - No, it will bring them in line with other e-war. In some ways it is a buff because the ECM will always work on a target with insufficient sensor strength.

"Only hislots? What about mids, like tackle?" - For too long ECM was a dice-roll to get out of jail free. With the addition of a Spectrum Lock Breaker and its drawbacks, it is much more apparent that the ability to completely break the locking ability of an enemy is extremely unbalanced in PVP, especially when the trade off is so slim. This way, a Falcon can permajam the damage component of an enemy (still able to "ECM tank"), but they can't simply get out of a fight if they are tackled.

"Won't this make some ships non-jammable by default because of their high sensor strengths?" - Potentially, which means ECM strength should potentially be granted a buff. The numbers should be such that 4 maxed skilled Falcon jams can disable the hislots on a non-ECCM fit, max-ECCM skilled carrier.

Feel free to add more whine, I'll address them and confirm I am awesome.

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