EVE Online

Enter The Portal or Missing it Entirely?

With Today's patch comes some very exciting news: Black Ops have gotten a tinkering after many years of neglect. You can read it here for review: https://www.eveonline.com/news/view/enter-the-portal-black-ops-update

I think it'd be useful to start a community discussion on these changes specifically focused on what could be done to BLOPs to give them more interesting meta applications on all levels. Here I'm going to focus on medium to large contexts but feel free to throw in more granular scenarios.

I'm going to throw in my hot takes on the subject to try and start up some discussion, so feel free to chip in with your ideas/opinions/savage arguments.

tl;dr for those not paying attention, the change with the most impact is probably the following:

Black Ops Group Jumps

for what seems like a constant fuel cost on SISI, BLOPs now have the ability to group-jump an entire fleet of covert ops-enabled ships within a 10km radius, subject to these ships not having jump fatigue (orange timers), being uncloaked, and not in bubbles or being warp disrupted. You still retain the ability to bridge fleets the normal way when you don't want the BLOPs to jump with the fleet.

Personally I think this change is very exciting. Traditional bridging limits the number of ships that can be brought through to a covert cyno due to both mass and distance restrictions, which was quite punishing for cruiser or T3C doctrines.

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Black Ops Ship Rebalancing

CCP also stated that one of their goals was to make BLOPs ships more viable as actual PVP platforms, and this is where I feel they've missed the mark. I'll give a quick tl;dr of some of the specifics:

The panther has some fairly significant damage, tracking and falloff buffs as well as a 25% buff to cloaked velocity. However, it's damage is still quite anaemic due to the low hardpoint count. The Redeemer seems to have some fairly useful buffs to it's neuting power which is a positive change.

For the sin and widow I feel like CCP didn't really know what to do with them, so just did *something* thematic with their respective race, but their new bonuses don't seem particularly impressive or useful. The widow is well-known to be particularly lackluster before this change, as they have to sacrifice their midslot tank for utility. Perhaps the 20% resist bonus mitigates this now, but I'm not sure.

So, Whats Wrong?

The main issue is that everything these BLOPs can do with these new bonuses, other covert ships can do better with targeted fittings. Consequently, BLOPs seem to to function somewhat as a jack-of-all trades, master of none. While this is certainly useful for smaller-scale engagements, the price-point of these must match their effectiveness & utility to be used frequently. As a proof-of-point, the following are extremal:

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Why bring a ~3B fitted BLOPs onto grid to kill a target when you can just use 1 x polarized bomber/2x T2 bombers or 2-3 T3Cs to get the same DPS output for a fraction of the price?

Why bring a widow on grid for jams when you can do the same thing in a falcon?

The neuting power of the new redeemer is nice, but in NS specifically (focused) void bombers exist and I'd argue that these bombers can also fulfill this role for better cost effectiveness, although I can see scenarios where the redeemer may be useful if you're willing to risk it.

Why do we need logistics drone bonuses on a sin yielding a relatively poor repping platform, when you can do the same thing but much better with a covert T3Cs?

Possible Remedies to Excite the BLOPs Meta?

I think going a bit more out side of the box with BLOPs could generate much more fun and interesting mechanics around these specialized and expensive hulls. A few things I've been thinking about recently that could make them very interesting in a multitude of scenarios are the following:

  1. Allow BLOPs to act as refit stations for covert ships. This would be particularly useful for T3C doctrines and may spark some life into them, because as we know T3Cs have been in the gutter for a while now due to both HAC dominance while also being pretty expensive.
  2. Allow BLOPs to fire reduced effectiveness and perhaps shorter range versions of burst projectors (with combat timers) thematic to their race. For example,
    1. Sin – bubble projectors
    2. Panther – web projectors
    3. Redeemer – neut projectors
    4. Widow – ECM/Dampening/Illumination projectors
  3. Allow the BLOPs frigate bay to store covops frigates for added utility (e.g scanning frigates) as well as giving them the potential ability to escape with the pod, encouraging people to pimp out their implants.
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what do y'all think about these changes? What do you think CCP could do to to make BLOPs more exciting and give them more meaningful grid presence?

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