Home Blogs Problems in the Capital: FAX and Cyno Balance problems and the death...

Problems in the Capital: FAX and Cyno Balance problems and the death of the escalation chain

Suitonia brings his perspective on Faction Warfare capture mechanics, originally published here.


This is going to be somewhat rantish – I have wanted to talk about this for a long time but there is a lot of topics to cover and I need to talk about different things as they come to mind. Capital Balance, Faxes, Proliferation, Cyno balance and the Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor have all been hot topics of discussion recently on eve forums, Reddit and in eve discords. Fighter Balance has been brought up again in the wake of ECM’s re-purposing in tomorrow’s patch, and the proposed limit of 1 capital ancillary shield booster has also awoke similar discussions surrounding the survivability of Rorquals and FAXes.

So let’s start from the top. These are my following observations having followed the now-scrapped FAX balance proposal with great interest. Faxes have two key balance issues right now. The first is the lack of interactivity with sub-capital ships, the second is the power that they bring for lack of cost and skill.

The Issue with Triple Capital Ancillary Shield Booster fits, and with Dual Capital Injector fits (Or Multi Heavy Cap Injector fits) is that Capacitor Warfare is of little or no consequence for Force Auxillarys and Rorquals. This means that the only way to kill a FAX or Rorqual is by bringing enough firepower to break through their active tank. Most ‘Cheap Fit’ Faxes can easily surpass a 30,000 DPS Tank, usually this amounts to about a 1.2 billion ISK loss after insurance. The Average Skirmish HAC (Cerb/Muninn), T3C (Loki) or Bombers, to name the most popular skirmish ships used in offensive roams, deal about 500 DPS. This means that to deal with a dropped FAX, you need over 60 of these skirmish ships in order to destroy one. When you factor in support ships such as logistics, probers, scouts, command bursts, dictors, ceptors, it’s very easy to require close to or over 90-100 people in a fleet in order to destroy one FAX.

Here a few example FAX fits that can almost completely ignore energy warfare options, while tanking over 30,000 DPS when flown optimally, while also keeping a very reasonable budget of less than 2 billion ISK to lose when insured.

[Ninazu, Ninazu fit]

Capital I-a Enduring Armor Repairer
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Reactive Armor Hardener
Capital I-a Enduring Armor Repairer

Thukker Small Cap Battery
Thukker Small Cap Battery
Heavy Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Capital F-RX Compact Capacitor Booster, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Capital F-RX Compact Capacitor Booster, Navy Cap Booster 3200

Triage Module II
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Armor Command Burst II, Rapid Repair Charge
Armor Command Burst II, Armor Energizing Charge

Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Inherent Implants ‘Squire’ Power Grid Management EG-603
Armored Command Mindlink
Strong Exile Booster
Agency ‘Hardshell’ TB7 Dose III

[Minokawa, Perma Inject]

Damage Control II
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System

Capital Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Pithum A-Type EM Ward Amplifier
Heavy Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 3200
CONCORD Capital Shield Booster
Pithum A-Type Explosive Deflection Amplifier
Pithum A-Type Thermal Dissipation Amplifier
Capital Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 3200

Shield Command Burst II, Active Shielding Charge
Shield Command Burst II, Shield Harmonizing Charge
Triage Module II
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster

Capital Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II
Capital Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II
Capital Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer II

Shield Command Mindlink
Strong Blue Pill Booster
Agency ‘Hardshell’ TB7 Dose III

Using Genolution Implants, and more expensive faction options. It’s possible to increase the capabilities of FAX tanks well into the 50k DPS range when you have a budget of 6-8b. This is why these FAXes are such as a huge issue in wormhole space, in addition to pimping them out, certain wormhole effects like the Wolf-Rayet effect, can push FAX fits into absurd limits. It’s possible to get FAXs that can tank over 120 Cruisers, and with the mass limits on wormholes, bringing such a fleet almost requires a full scale eviction. Remember that we are only taking about breaking one FAX right now.

While old ‘Triage’ Carriers could probably get the equilvilant level of tank, they could also get destroyed and countered by Neuting Bhaalgorns, Legions or swarms of Welp-Canes to name popular options. The current FAXes mostly ignore all energy warfare, whether by using triple CASP fits or injector fits. And this is the main issue with FAXes for small-medium sized groups right now.

A great slew of balance issues we have faced from Structures has been based on CCP’s very generous grandfathering of old systems. Citadels essentially are combining the pros of both the old Outposts and POS’s. CCP has generally been very cautious and making sure that if you could do something in the old system you can continue in the new system with the same, if not with more advantages, as to not disrupt anyone – FAXes are no different here, the current FAXes we know are just as powerful as an old Triage Carrier – if it was properly managed with correct refitting, but now without all the skill, nuance and preparation that combat refitting once had. The result is that an Apostle or Minokawa alt is now expected, and often required for nullsec and lowsec capital groups.

The issue that bigger groups have with FAXes are generally how effective they are at saving more critical assets such as Titans or Supers. FAXes provide so much power for little cost, and with the current mineral proliferation we have from Rorquals, they can be produced en-mass easily. Just one FAX can neutralise as many as 8 Dreads from a Dread-bomb shooting at a resist fit Super or Titan. A Damnation linked Guardian with 4 large meta armor repairers, repairs 381 HP per second. The Minokawa I linked with 3 Meta Capital Remote Shield Boosters and it’s own links, not stronger CS links, reps 6773 HP per second. This is close to 18x as much, so each cheap FAX, generally speaking, is going to provide as much repping power, if not more using CONCORD reps and more expensive fits – Than 18 Logistic Cruisers!

Even with 2 reps fit, we’re still looking at about 12 T2 Logistic Cruisers repped per FAX. About 5 Dreads neutralised.

Because of this fact, Null groups use what they refer to as ‘Suicide’ FAXes. Generally these are well fit buffer tanked FAXes with the capital emergency damage control. Because FAXes are so powerful, they must be killed first in any capital engagement, so these ‘suicide’ FAXes plan to stay alive and waste as much time as possible in a big fleet fight. Once you lose your FAXes, and the otherside still has FAXes, there is little you can do, so obviously, and rightfully groups decide to deagress, decommit and evacuate once the initial FAX trade has taken place or has generally been decided. This frustrates a lot of null players as often you’ll kill a few dozen suicide FAXes while the ‘real’ assets, the Super-Carriers and Titans escape.

[Minokawa, GoonWaffe’s Minokawa]
Capital Emergency Hull Energizer I
Reactor Control Unit II
Reactor Control Unit II
Reactor Control Unit II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Capital Capacitor Booster II
Capital Shield Extender II
Pith X-Type EM Ward Field
Pith X-Type Thermal Dissipation Field
Capital Capacitor Booster II,Cap Booster 3200

Capital Remote Capacitor Transmitter II
Capital Remote Shield Booster II
Capital Remote Shield Booster II
Cynosural Field Generator I
Large YF-12a Smartbomb
Triage Module II

Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I

Warrior I x15
Heavy Hull Maintenance Bot II x5
Hornet EC-300 x5
Heavy Armor Maintenance Bot II x5

An Example fit from GoonSwarm.

This is mostly a consequence of there being no way to interact with triage remote reps. While Guardians/Basilisks can be disrupted using command destroyers, ECM, Damps among a few other tactics. FAX Machines are immune to all of these. There is currently no limit to the scaling of Remote Repair, and no form of Anti-RR/Anti-Healing Debuff that are present in other MMOs or Genres such as Mortal Strike from World of Warcraft, or Ignite from League of Legends.

I think a good point to think about would be insurance on FAXes and Capitals in general. Right now they are classified as Tech 1, in the same way as a ship such as the Megathron is. This means that you get about 70% of the cost back in insurance, and using nullsec industry you honestly can get pretty close to 100% of the cost back. It wasn’t too long ago that GoonSwarm was self destructing Charons to get ISK from mineral stockpiles. This makes FAXes easily replaceable, an Insured FAX hull is only going to be about a 250-300m isk loss before the fitting is added at present, which is cheaper than some HAC hulls.

Now onto Rorquals, Rorquals can essentially get the same, if not slightly more tank than a FAX machine can. Using a very similar fitting strategy to the FAXes I linked at the top of this article, one can make a Rorqual fit which ignores almost all energy warfare that requires over 80 skirmish ships (Realistically about 110 man fleet) in order to destroy. What this essentially means, is that any Rorqual pilot who has a good fit, skills, plays optimally and is not what is known as a ‘spodbrain’ is almost immune to any kind of roaming gang. He requires an enemy fleet of cruisers or stealth bombers approaching the triple digits in order to actually die. He also has tools such as the 7.5 minute invulnerability and refresh from the PANIC, 1.2k DPS of drones, neuts/smartbombs/RR and Links.

Obviously not everyone plays optimally, however the game should obviously be balanced as everyone is.

Because of the Critical mass needed to kill a single optimal Rorqual or FAX. It has dampened a lot of the tasks and targets that Junior FCs and small roaming gangs could kill. It is currently the norm to fit a Cynosural Field onto any ratting Carrier or Super, Rorquals, or any sub-capital ship that can spare the high slot, such as Rattlesnakes and Ishtars. Because an optimal FAX as mentioned, usually requires over a 60 man gang to kill it, or the target of it’s RR, it means that when we are talking about optimal players – Players on comms, in fleet, with a cyno. They are near immune to the typical ‘skirmish gang’ ‘drunk roam’ or ‘small gang roam’.

We’ve seen hulk fleets become Rorqual fleets, on Athanors or Tataras, Ratting battleships are now Ratting Carriers which can be permanently aligned, with 1.3million EHP and a cyno to teleport a 60k DPS tank in if it does get caught. Tethering took away station camping, and a ratting Nidhoggur applies more DPS to frigates than a daredevil does, more DPS to cruisers than a Vigilant does, and more DPS to Battleships than a Vindicator does, 12km/s Einherjis cannot be kited, and a 1.3million EHP ship with great resists can easily be saved if defanged.

This has sparked talk about the Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor, as mentioned in the minutes and brought up by me. As you more or less need one to kill a player in fleet who is within 7LY of that alliances staging. Cyno Inhibs are underwhelming in many ways, they take 2 minutes to online, they take up 300m3 so it’s near impossible to put them in your scouting ships, ceptors or dictors who are going to be first on the field to trigger the defensive cyno in the first place, they are very costly at 50m a piece to badly-counter a 2m module fit on almost every ship, their HP layout, which was designed to not be immortal under FAX reps, of 10k shield, 10k armor and 150k Hull, means that they can actually just be killed by a solo ratting super through infinite amounts of reps. Ultimately, having thought about it, I think the problem stems more from how powerful of a defensive tool the cynosural field actually is. There is almost no downsides to losing a highslot and an inconsequential amount of fitting for anything that is bigger than a frigate, for the ability to have mass amount of capital ships teleport to you.

Any change or solution to the cynosural field in my opinion needs to accomplish a couple of things, firstly, you don’t want to impact move ops. Secondly, you don’t want to impact hunting much either. None of these suggested changes would apply to Covert Cynosural Fields.

1. Add a ‘spool up’ timer to Cynosural Fields, with no spool up for bonused ships such as Force Recons, T3Cs or Covert Ops, potentially HICs too if it’s felt needed for super hunting. Suggested time of 1-2 minutes. This would make defensive cynos take longer, meaning more time to kill a target caught out of position before he can get capital help, this would generally mean that ships like ratting carriers, Ishtars and Rattlesnakes would die to 10 man gangs that manage to tackle them. This wouldn’t really impact move ops much, as big alliances can easily just use a Force Recon or T3C to instalight cynos, and a 2 minute wait isn’t a big deal on large move op and can be prepared beforehand, perma staging cynos are unaffected. Since Covert Cynos are unaffected, this doesn’t affect black ops hunting groups, and T3Cs and Force Recons are generally the preferred ship for dropping on people anyway, so wouldn’t hurt offensive uses. The only real downside I see is making it harder to bait with things like Cyno Procurers or things like Cyno Interceptors warping in and instantly lighting a cyno, but I honestly think that might be better for balance.

Or

2.  Add some kind of debuff to Cynos, that affects drone/turret damage and drone mining yield, like -30%. I don’t like this one as much, but it would encourage more risk/reward. Do you take the defensive cyno to bail you out but lose 1/3rd of your mining yield or site clear times. This again, wouldn’t affect move ops, or hunting much at all, and would only really be a downside when used defensively by Rorquals, or PVE ships.

It’s easy to laugh and poke fun at the little guys, but they are a needed part of the ‘escalation chain’. Dangerous small gangs that can’t just be countered lazily by capital ships means Junior FCs in charge of 40 man caracal or hurricane defence fleets again, FAXes that can be neuted means more vibrant doctrines than 100mn AB kiting gangs, or Retributions. We currently have a huge problem with proliferation of bounties and minerals, and I think having the farms and fields actually be farms and fields rather than fortified bunkers that they are now is going to help with that.

Obviously there are still many other problems with capital balance, Super-Carriers in particular are exceptionally good, better than any single dedicated subcapital ship is at being an anti-subcap ship. Long Range fighter bombers easily apply over 1k DPS to any generic cruiser that doesn’t have an oversized afterburner, on top of that, supers have full tackle with Dromis and Sirens, HAW Titans one shot jackdaws at 60km, I don’t want to go too in depth with that right now though as the article is already long enough.

The Current game really feels to me like you have to be part of a large group in order to accomplish anything that isn’t just killing spodbrains and AFK VNIs.

Leave a Reply