Wednesday, 26 August 2009

"Do Black Ops Battleships Need a Covert Ops Cloak?" - My View

Kirith Kodachi, the writer for wrote an article listing pros and cons on whether or not the ability to fit a covert-ops cloak would be necessary to make the Black Ops battleships more viable on the battlefields of New Eden - click to read it. I initially wanted to post my thoughts on the matter as a comment, but it soon appeared it would make for a rather lengthy one, so instead I turned it into a post.

Before I start - I am not a black ops pilot, so my point of view might not be considered very accurate. However I do know several black ops pilots, and have heard plenty about how they operate their ships at the moment.

The ships and their bonuses

Amarr - Redeemer

Battleship skills bonuses: 10% reduction in gun cap usage; 5% bonus to ROF
Marauder skill bonuses: 7.5% bonus to tracking

Minmatar - Panther

Battleship skills bonuses: 10% bonus to gun damage; 5% bonus to ROF
Marauder skill bonuses: 5% bonus to ship speed

Gallente - Sin

Battleship skills bonuses: 5% bonus to gun damage; 10% bonus to drone damage and hitpoints
Marauder skill bonuses: 5% bonus to ship agility

Caldari - Widow
Battleship skills bonuses: 10% bonus to CM/Torpedo speed; 5% bonus to ROF
Marauder skill bonuses: 30% ecm strength

Also, all ships have a 125% multiplier per black ops level to cloaked velocity. All ships except the Widow can field 5 heavy or sentry drones, with the Panther and Sin having sufficient carrying capacity to bring other types as well.

The Panther and Redeemer stand out as the heavy hitters among the lot, being able to put out around (or over) 600 dps at ranges of up to 40km. This with reasonable armor buffer and serious (2x reppers can be fitted on each) remote repair capabilities. The Panther is faster, while the Redeemer is better tanked and does better in close quarters with that tracking bonus. It does however somewhat suffer from CPU starvation.

Recent changes to Black Ops Battleships

In the latest patch, all black ops received a 1km3 fuel bay, so they might cope better in their assigned role of bridging other ships (bombers, covops, force recons, blockade runners) on short range jumps. In my opinion, this was a necessary fix (this feature was released pre-nerfed, as far as I know) and it does in no way represent a "boost" towards the combat capabilities of the ship itself.

The general view on the subject is pretty much the one illustrated in the caption below:

"Hello, I am the Panther; I'll be your Rapist tonight...Sorry, fresh out of lube.
By the way, when we're done, do you mind signing this petition to give me and my friends better tools to rape and pillage?"

This is mainly because few people have troubled themselves to train for this ship class and for many they represent fear-inspiring mythical creatures. So, is that the case or not? Well, let's see...

Arguments For the Covert ops Cloak

First off, it would be
SERIOUSLY cool. But that's not an argument. just the inner child wanting it all.

Kirith does a good writeup on this; but in addition to what he said, I have more arguments.
First off, starting at the price tag: For nearly 800 Million, this ship can bridge some ship categories, jump itself and perform, in most if not in all aspects, worse than its T1 counterparts (which cost less than 1/10th of the price) in a combat situation.

Given the price, we won't see them using sniper fits with cardboard plating to tear down any type of orbital installation or capital ship as a comment in Kirith's post suggests - dreadnaughts can do the same job for far less cash output. And they are insurable.

Giving Black Ops covert cloaking capabilities is also an anti-blob measure. They should be able to follow blobs around and pick off stragglers on the way, while they themselves have a chance of surviving when they meet face to face with the blob fleet.

Arguments Against the Covert Ops Cloak

This is a classic case of CCP offering a finger and the players grabbing the whole hand. At first, Covert Ops Cloaks were reserved for Covert Ops Frigates and Force Recons; not long ago Stealth Bombers and Blockade runners joined the club. And now Black Ops Battleships? How about HAC's with the ability to warp cloaked? or Interceptors?

While it is true that Black Ops don't have quite the same potential for destruction as their T1 counterparts, they can very well pick their engagements and get out extremely fast if things look bad. Short-range hotdrops will be the order of the day, with Black Ops being able to go wherever they damn well please, since now covert cyno fields can be lit in cyno-jammed systems too. They can also send an avant-garde of bombers and heavy tacklers/ewar platforms (force recons) to soften up targets.

Granted, they won't be useful for influencing sovereignty, but they will be too efficient a weapon of terror used for interdiction tactics, logistics disruption and enemy demoralization. A relatively small group can fully cripple an entire alliance this way.

As to the fact that it will be a blob deterrent - quite the contrary. We'll simply see different blobs - blobs that can warp cloaked and go wherever they please, as long as fuel is on hand.


Although these ships can now go almost everywhere via jump drives, the logistics are not that easy when pondering long-range incursions into enemy space. Fuel resupply can be done via blockade runner, but it's tedious and requires one if not several pilots who would otherwise fly a combat vessel to fly a fuel tank.

And you won't see large blobs of this type of ship - as already mentioned, they are quite expensive to lose to accidental decloaking caused by a gangmember. Marauders are also just a bit more expensive, and in spite of their drawbacks they make formidable war machines. Do you see blobs of them roaming around?

As for the claim that they will be used as a "third man in" (from Kirith's blog post) - this can already be done, for instance by gate campers. Take an average lowsec system with a gatecamp. A camp-busting force of similar size warps in and engages. Suddenly a few black ops aligned with the campers decloak and unleash their guns, ewar and tackle upon the camp busters without any delay, since they have no recalibration period. Having covert ops cloaks on black ops battleships would allow the camp busters to theoretically bring their own surprise to the battlefield, thus balancing it out.

Counter Rebuttal

Adding a covert ops cloak would allow Black Ops to function in full safety in roles it was not meant to in the first place - like NPC ratting and mission running in unsecured space. Although less efficient than a marauder, the increase in safety would make them worth using in such roles.

Also, adding the covert-ops cloak together with a de-cloak targeting delay wouldn't be any better - actually it would be quite useless. The pilot would still be able to use the cloak to warp away safely from a hairy situation, and when entering the battlefield, they would simply decloak mid-warp and be ready to fire when they arrive.

To sum it up...

There are many justified concerns that the Black Ops would be overpowered if given Covert Ops cloak capabilities, but at the same time there are also quite a few justified arguments in favor of this move.

All in all, I think putting this on the test server and getting players involved in testing different scenarios would clarify this issue once and for all, determining possible adjustments to compensate so that the added capabilities don't turn this ship class into a do-all monster.


  1. "And now Black Ops Battleships? How about HAC's with the ability to warp cloaked? or Interceptors?"

    Uhm.... It's different because the class of ship is called "BLACK OPS"... Moron...

  2. That makes no sense mr. Anonymous.

    Great article.