And here we go, round 3 of the most controversial change coming in Rubicon, to the most unloved (apparently) ship class in the universe!
This has been going spinning in circles for a while now, but CCP seems pretty deadset on the whole MJD/Bastion thing, the only things left are the actual stats on the hulls of which I don’t think there are going to be significant changes from this 3rd iteration. In all honesty it seems pretty acceptable now (although I stand by my previous stance that there was no need to nerf the hulls in the first place). The marauders generally lost a bit of speed and agility, and got their drone bandwidth gutted, in exchange for lower mass, better fitting, much lower signature, increased EHP, slightly increased targeting range and much better scan resolution. The ridiculously low sensor strength still stands, which makes no sense whatsoever since they were originally designed that way to prevent Marauders from PVPing (and this whole update is about making Marauders able to PVP…).
In case you can’t be bothered to read all 300+ pages of rage, gloating and sometimes utter stupidity, here are some interesting notes (since I did read all 300+ pages):
– Bastion range bonus is stacking penalized, by design. What this means is that the range bonus is relatively weak and isn’t going to make autocannons hit out to 100 km.
– Bastion makes you immune to e-war… but not immune to cap drain. So neuts are still highly dangerous, in fact even more so since every bit of cap drained is a huge amount of potential shield/armor lost. In addition the 2 shield marauders, Golem and Vargur, got a slight cap regen nerf. In Bastion you can’t receive remote assistance, so no cap transfers, but interestingly nosferatus still work so if you have 2 Marauders you can Bastion up and suck cap from each other.
– Bastion makes you unable to e-warp in case of DC. This could be potentially very lethal to pilots with spotty internet connections. If you DC in the middle of a Bastion cycle, the ship will try to e-warp but can’t because of Bastion’s immobility. When Bastion ends, the ship does not reattempt to e-warp, so your ship will be stuck there immobile with no reppers running.
– Your ship is unable to align while in Bastion. Guess immobile really means immobile.
So as I see it, there are 3 possible ways to fly a Marauder in missions in Rubicon. One is to A) continue flying it the pre-Rubicon fashion. Another option is to B) follow CCP’s grand vision and become a MJD sniper. The third option C) is to retool your fit around Bastion + prop mod (likely to be MWD) and short/mid range weapons.
Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care
This is my initial reaction, given that I’m actually really happy with my Marauders now. The main selling point of Marauders to me is the ability to salvage. CCP has stated that the new tractor beam structure will only be able to tractor 1 thing at a time at normal speeds, although it has further range than Marauder tractors. They also haven’t said whether it can be picked up after being deployed(note the new siphon unit can’t, so I’m a bit worried on this). MJD and Bastion both work against this principle, MJD because it jumps too far and Bastion because you turn into a space lump. So since the hull nerfs aren’t THAT bad now, you could simply use your old fit (AB/MWD) and fit Bastion mostly as a oh-shit button. You primarily move and shoot and salvage, but if pinned down by webbers in a bad place with a damage spike or NPCs are hitting you with annoying e-war, you press Bastion and go “RAAAWR BREAK YOURSELF ON MY ADAMANTITE BODY”
The benefits you get are that you are much less vulnerable to Bastion death-by-DC, it’s not as gimmicky a playstyle and you can easily salvage on the move, while getting the get-out-of-ewar-free card and a completely massive tank in case you somehow really mess up.
I have seen the light
Since CCP is absolutely not budging on this concept, you could also go with the flow and do what they want you to do, meaning fit MJD, Bastion up and snipe. If you salvage with a Noctis anyway, this would probably work out decently well. The problem then is why you would fly a Marauder in the first place. If the bandwidth and drone bay had been buffed to allow 5 sentries, then I would be totally excited to do this. MJD just works so well with sentries, and the plethora of high slots in Marauders is perfect for Drone Link Augmentors. But… alas it is not to be. Which leaves us in a position where a plain old Dominix, or a Fleet Typhoon, or Navy Apoc, will do very comparable (actually more) DPS for a fraction of the training time and price. The MJD bonus is going to be very underutilized because the vast majority of time you won’t be jumping every 1 minute anyway, 3 minutes is perfectly acceptable.
Bastion’s tank bonus is also relatively underutilized in this role. You only need 2 slots to tank, but to really snipe you still need to mount some kind of targeting range module and also a few Tracking Computers/Tracking Enhancers. Bastion’s range bonus isn’t very helpful because to snipe you still have to fit long range weapons, which could already hit at those ranges anyway. However, in terms of safety this role is unbeatable. You already take little damage at range, so a short disconnect isn’t really a problem, in fact you don’t even really need to Bastion (most e-war doesn’t even reach 100km, except maybe jamming). MJD gets you out of NPC warp disruption, so you should never ever die to tackling frigates. You just need to practise doing triangulation to get to acceleration gates, and you could probably even mount an additional prop mod to travel short distances easier.
Activate turtle mode
The third option, which I’m actually pretty interested to try out, is to plan around being in Bastion ALL THE TIME. Since Bastion’s range bonus is stacking penalized, it makes some sense to maximise it by not mounting as many range modules (or change to tracking scripts). If possible, I’d also like to try adding a couple of webs (even if unbonused). The idea is to fly to medium range, activate Bastion and kill absolutely everything, even close range frigates. You’d need to mount a strongish tank (maybe 3 slots) but not as strong as the first option since you’ll always be in Bastion, but you gain being able to put out much better damage and not having to waste time MJDing. You can still salvage since you’re mostly fighting short-medium range, and you can mount a MWD to quickly burn to the next gate after you’re done. The downside is that the ship will be borderline unusable when not in Bastion, since you’ll have abysmal range (well, the 3 turret ships, not the cruise Golem)
Wait, what about MJD brawling? CHAAAARGE!
The obvious 4th option, a MJD brawler, doesn’t sound viable to me. The current MJD implementation simply heavily favors sniping and poses several problems to brawling. For example, lets say you warp in to a mission and the next gate plus NPCs are 50km out. What can you do? If you jump out in preparation for the next jump landing you on the gate, now for 1 minute you’re stuck at 100 km where your brawling fit can’t reach. If you jump somewhat close to them so you can start shooting, now you can’t make your next jump close to the gate and you’ll need to fit additional prop mod. If you just start shooting NPCs from the warp in, if any frigates somehow get close to you and you have to MJD jump away now they are 100km away from you again.
Any way you slice it there’s a very real possibility that you’re going to end up in a dead zone for your guns, just because MJD can only jump 100km. If it could jump 50km then the problem would probably be non-existent. It’s probably workable, but it just seems like you’ll be always trying to tack on bandaids to fix problems caused by MJD in the first place.
So overall I’m cautiously optimistic about the Marauder rebalance, mostly because I can see 3 fairly interesting options, of which one is the status quo (which I’m happy with). The hulls received some welcome buffs that will really help out, like lower signature and better scan resolution, whereas the nerfs are survivable (drone bandwidth hurts but from a selfish standpoint I already use salvage drones all the time anyway).
As to whether these ships will be used for PVP? I doubt it, no matter what all the ridiculous PVPers say in the feedback thread. The simple fact is that the ships still cost a billion just for the hulls. How many Machariels and Nightmares do you see being used in PVP now? In general PVP testing feedback has been positive, but that’s because they are getting something where before they had nothing. Even if the ship was horribly broken and useless no PVPer would care since they’re not flying it now anyway. Plus the “PVP” on SiSi just consists of people kamikazeing into Bastion marauders without a care in the world. One Goon even posted something about how a Golem fitted with rapid light missile launchers could tear apart a 30-man frigate gang by itself. Because a Bastioned Golem could catch all 30 frigates if they just… you know… flew away when they realised it was mounting anti-frigate weapons? Damn some people are just so full of stupid, words fail me.