Easley Thames is a contributing writer for Eve News24, you can visits his site at the Could Have Taken it Solo blog.

Easley Thames: At Long Last – The Assault Ship Buff

Everyone is talking about the assault ship changes posted by the same redditor who brought us an accurate preview of the tier-3 BC stats before CCP released any information on them.

I don’t know his/her methods, but apparently he/she is able to filter out relevant ship changes from the “Chaos Client cache,” using what I can only assume to be some sort of magical scrying stone.

I have a few preliminary thoughts on these changes…

The MWD bonus seems highly ineffectual:

I think that the devs may be attempting to encourage the use of a “heavy interceptor” setup that can remain highly survivable while MWDing out to tackle targets for roaming gangs, or even in larger fleet battles.

However, this “heavy interceptor” role bonus really isn’t something that will be particularly useful to most gangs, or even most assault ship pilots.

Changes in fleet composition trends, game mechanics, and FC preferences over the last few years have caused frigate tacklers to fall out of favor, in both fleet warfare and roaming pvp.

The rise of idiot-proof probing has removed the phenomenon of 150km+ snipers (who cannot track frigs for shit) from 0.0, the popularity of close-ranged turret BS has made orbiting frigs into mere fodder, e-war immune super-caps determine the victor in most serious battles, and missile-spamming 100MN AB-Tengu fleets give absolutely zero fucks if you scram them.

The bottom line is, there is no longer a need for a “hero inty” to burn out to the enemy like we saw depicted in the Incarna trailer.

Even in smaller fleets, it only takes a few roaming fit-BCs to pop an MWDing assault ship in a single volley, before it can reach them at range on a gate or station.

The focus has instead shifted towards well-placed interdiction spheres, heavily-tanked HIDs, long-range tackling recons, and tech-3 “strategic” cruiser tacklers with faction mods.

These ships can provide better tackling, usually from further away, and can actually be supported by logistics on a reliable basis.

In solo PvP, with a few notable exceptions – such as Imperial Navy Slicers – solo frigs rarely run MWD-only fits today.

Almost all 1v1 frigate setups plan on fighting within scram range these days. Worse yet, mwd/scram/web frigs can often be escaped by AB/scram frigs, with only web-bonused ships like the Daredevil being a consistent exception.

For this reason, most pilots fit to optimize their performance within scram range, rather than attempting to kite.


Most people expected something else:

The two most popular theories discussed have always been an AB speed-boost (as a flat role bonus of perhaps 25-50%) or e-war resistance (such as web immunity). I would greatly prefer either of these bonuses to an MWD-related bonus.

Since interceptors already have the MWD signature bloom reduction, would it not make much more sense to give assault ships an AB-related bonus?

This would benefit assault ships in close-range tackling, further augmenting their defensive capabilities, without encroaching on the (already greatly diminished) territory of ‘ceptors.

I believe an AB-buff is what most of the player-base would have voted for, if given the chance. However, I would personally favor an even more dramatic change.

My suggestion is that CCP allow assault ships to fit medium weapons!

The game really doesn’t need yet another boring frigate-sized tackler, it needs original ship concepts that spur innovation and force battle-soured capsuleers to reconsider their dogmatic approach to warfare.

Where will the Amarrian God be when your fancy new Oracle gets tackled by an AB-fit Enyo with a rack of Heavy Neutron Blaster II’s?

I think that this would be in-line with the tradition of over-sized weapons established first by stealth bombers and, more recently, tier-3 battlecruisers.

I digress though. Back to the tentative changes.


EHP values are going up:

The next general buff to all assault ships seems to be the addition of either 200 armor or shield, depending on the natural tanking predisposition of the ship.

Some have said that this will tip the balance even further in favor of assault ships against close-range faction frigs, which are already starting to go down in price (particularly Dramiels). I certainly agree with that sentiment.

However, I think this was done, more than anything else, to put comparatively-expensive assault ships (and I use the word “expensive” with a degree of sarcasm here) in a better position against the recently (and rather unexpectedly) buffed T1 destroyers, which are very affordable.

The passive armor/shield buff also favors passive fits that can attach a multiplier effect to the added HP (such as a core defense extender or trimarks) rather than active setups.

However, I personally believe we may well see a golden age of active-tanked assault ships used by solo combat pilots due to the improved slot-layouts.


Added slots and fittings space will create new possibilities:

Each assault ship will be receiving an added slot!

VENGEANCE +1 HIGH (utility only)

The biggest change here has to be the addition of a second mid-slot to the god-damned Retribution. A frigate with one mid-slot is just a fundamentally flawed design, and it’s a bit disappointing that we had to wait for a full overhaul of the ship class to get this thing modified.

These layouts, combined with some extra PG or Cpu here and there, should enable some dangerous new setups.

For example, the Enyo gains a slot that could be filled with a web, but I believe many will attempt to emulate the success of Garmon’s legendary taranis fit by opting for dual-prop layout.

The Vengeance in particular seems singled by these changes, and arguably has improved the least, but it was already so good at what it did that it hardly needed improvement. This hard-tanking frigate is the PzKpfw 38H735 (f) or “Hotchkiss” of Eve – a reference I suspect many tank-driving Eve players will agree with.

More relevant to my own tastes, CCP may-well have ushered in a the golden era of dual-rep armor tanking assault ships. I am very excited to experiment with cap-injected, dual-repping Ishkur.


The Missing 4th Bonuses Finally Applied:

T2 ships, regardless of whether they have a role bonus or not, always gain two additional bonuses on top of their two T1 hull bonuses. That is, except for Assault Ships.

This shortfall has always vexed many pilots, and at last we have those missing bonuses.

An extra 5% or 7.5% per level can make a huge difference in a dog fight, and this will further cement the Assault Ship as the new kings of close-range frigate brawling.


– Easley Thames

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  1. a random goon

    AF fiiting Med gun would be bad. Keep that for an hypothetic Tech 3 Frigate. Anyways:

    CCP, please give us a 4th bonus…

    …ACTUALLY USEFULL!! jesus christ they'r dumb I can't believer it.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:31 am Reply
    1. David Star

      Believer it.

      December 28, 2011 at 7:21 am Reply
  2. Imigo

    It's supposedly from the same guy who gathered the Tier 3 BC data, but I wuold hesitate to call it definitive as it could easily be a troll.

    Having said that, I like the changes, although would also prefer an AB bonus instead of the MWD bonus. Maybe even a 1MN prop mod fitting bonus (to allow easier dual prop).

    December 28, 2011 at 2:39 am Reply
    1. dieharddisk

      nobody cares what you think bro

      December 28, 2011 at 6:07 am Reply
      1. Imigo

        At least you care enough to reply <3

        December 28, 2011 at 6:16 am Reply
        1. Thumbs

          The Thumbs tell all the truth

          December 28, 2011 at 8:39 am Reply
  3. glenn

    Now is the time to stockpile AF's

    December 28, 2011 at 2:42 am Reply
    1. here we go again… 0\


      December 28, 2011 at 2:55 am Reply
      1. David Star

        I've got the stockpile already…….


        December 28, 2011 at 7:23 am Reply
  4. anonymous

    "The bottom line is, there is no longer a need for a “hero inty” to burn out to the enemy like we saw depicted in the Incarna trailer."

    That's plainly wrong. Fast ships do great work creating warpins within a grid. A smart FC can get a great advantage out of this combined with a few capable "hero inties". You never can achieve this due to probing because of the nature of the results probing yields.

    December 28, 2011 at 4:20 am Reply
  5. Gumpin

    Can we get an article on why all the teir 2 BCs are suddenly on a price climb instead? Every one of them is over 30 million and myrms are insanely over priced.

    December 28, 2011 at 5:49 am Reply
    1. Dutchman

      That's probably due to the fact that 2 wars have just broken out. If you take a look at the killboards you'll see that there's a huge number of Battlecruisers (mostly hurricanes and drakes) being destroyed. Add that to the rule of supply and demand, and you'll understand why those prices are rising.

      December 28, 2011 at 8:16 am Reply
      1. Gumpin

        So why are Myrms 36.5 million isk but canes are only 30.5 million?

        December 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm Reply
    2. Spank

      The BC prices climbed up due to minerals price change, in particular Mexallon, it went from being sold at 28-30 isk to over 45-55 in the past 2 months, thus effecting the base construction prices.
      The change been felt on all T1 ships as for about 2 weeks ago almost all hubs had BS ship shortage/
      I'm not sure but it could be some one pulling strings on the market and raising the prices like the Oxytopes.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm Reply
      1. Gumpin

        Could be the mex, but its not hurting everything equally.

        I noticed it because teir 1 BCs are barely shifted, and teir 3 have been dropping to the price i figured (about the same cost, or less, than a teir 1 battleship).

        Seems odd that ALL of the teir 3 battlecruisers, even the unpopular ones in nullsec fleet ops, would be showing steep climbs.

        December 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm Reply
        1. Pilot

          What does the price of mex in Jita have to do with AF changes?

          January 9, 2012 at 1:56 am Reply
  6. Bear1990

    I agree, finally the Retribution will be useful. I actually hope it gets a speed boost to go with the mwd sig radius reduction, just so I can fly it in a similar way to an IN slicer, but with MOAR dps

    December 28, 2011 at 7:59 am Reply
  7. Marco

    I saw the 2nd mid slot for the Retri. I came.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:18 am Reply
  8. Do agree that ability to fit mid-sized weapons coupled with slot improvements would be the most interesting change. Changes relating to 'heavy tackling' topic usually intervene in ceptor roles and therefore don't introduce any diversity.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:38 am Reply
  9. O.k

    My wolf will have ALL THE EHP!

    December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm Reply
  10. Socrates

    The extra bonus for the AF is a plus for sure, the extra Low slot on the Wolf is bit strange.
    Imo i would prefer an extra Medium slot.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm Reply
    1. more nano for the nanogod

      December 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm Reply
  11. Kieran Tremzark

    i find this post suprisingly easy to masturbate to

    December 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm Reply
    1. Penis?

      December 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm Reply
  12. droljica


    Only retard or ccp dickhead and GeyMoron need God knows how many years to see that one med slod is like no med slot. Way2go ccp dickheads.

    December 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm Reply
  13. Lithia

    As a solo Sabre pilot, I have always been a little bit afraid of engaging an AF. A Wolf can turn you into a smoking hull in 8 seconds if you don't get the engagement-vector just right. An Ishkur is just as dangerous if it gets a hold of you. These changes might be what was needed to change interdictors' disposition towards AF targets.

    I also see the AF's MWD bonus as a potential counter to the 100Mn AB fit Tengu.

    December 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm Reply

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