CCP, you may have spotted, are planning an ECM nerf. Now, I’m biased in this- I fly support. I’m rarely seen in fleet fights because I’m in a buzzard 250km from anyone else, but if I’m there I’m in a Scorpion or a Kitsune. I’ve not gotten a killmail since 2008, for crying out loud. And therein lies my point.
The changes to Scorp, Falcon and Rook assume that ECM pilots just fit ECM as a side benefit of their guns. This is simply not the case in the vast majority of situations. None of the EW ships are particularly strong with a decent quantity of ECM- using racial jammers you need 4 midslots of ECM, and trying to generate a tank out of your remaining mids doesn’t tend to work well. The goal of the ECM pilot is to reduce the damage output of the opposing force by disrupting target locks and removing one or more ships from the battle in terms of actually dealing damage to your team.
Now, there’s one situation and one ship that has received a lot of attention.
Falcons are fairly legendary for having the ability to lock out to ~200km and to jam from that distance with good strength. This is a great asset in fleet fights and smaller engagements like gate camps where having a few distributed ECM platforms around the place to break up hostile fire concentration can swing the battle to the defenders. However, in smaller fights it can lead to ‘problems’ where the hostiles will be set up for close range high DPS situations with a Falcon or two dotted around the battlefield at long range, well out of the attacker’s range. Problems like the attackers not being able to shoot anything.
What is the solution to this, you might ask? Well, CCP’s answer is to turn the Falcon- a paper-thin, untankable (This is a Caldari ship- shields are all about the midslots, which is where your ECM goes. One or the other, chaps) fairly nippy cruiser that can cloak- into a close-range brawler. Otherwise known as ‘primary’. Unless you jam 100% of the targets 100% of the time, you’ve popped already in 99% of situations. Your cloaking advantage is useless, your tank doesn’t exist, your DPS is tiny compared to, say, a HAC.
Then there’s the Rook, which CCP want to turn into a longish-range platform. But wait- drone bay? Why does a long-range platform need a frakking drone bay? It’s enough for one sentry drone, but that’s about all you could concieveably find useful as a Rook pilot. At 80k or thereabouts, you’ll still die nice and fast but you’ll at least be able to do some damage with your one sentry drone and heavy missiles.
No nerf would be complete without planned changes for every good ship, though- the Scorpion gets messed around with too! No more optimal range bonus for the Scorp- it’s getting brawlerfied too. Now, I’ve got a Scorpion set up for W-Space. Strong tank, a little ECM, and cruises for contributing to the longer-range targets DPS-wise. Now, a torpscorp might work well if there were some more hardpoints/highslots added, but your tank would again destroy your ECM. I’ve only got 3 multispecs fitted, along with two SDAs. It’s not a PvP-worthy fitting, by any means, and reduces the Scorp’s usefulness greatly.
Now- enough ranting. How do we fix ECM properly, to give smaller gangs a chance against these obviously overpowered ships? Fix ECCM. Give Remote ECCM a huge boost, either in strength or by making it an area-of-effect module. Of course RECCM is useless- RECCM providers will simply be jammed. Why not make RECCM a shield effect, similar to a heavy interdictor, and a highslot module instead of a midslot module? Pick a ship class that has a grey area in terms of it’s role and choose that as a specialist platform for RECCM. RECCM shielding could give all ships within the bubble a boost to their sensor strength, making them more resistant to ECM.
By making RECCM a more viable option for players and making it a clearly defined fun role to play, ECM gets more interesting, other pilots get jammed less and are happier, and balance can be restored to small gangs with the addition of a RECCM pilot or some extra ECCM modules on snipers. Nothing needs nerfing; the battlefield just needs evening up to give RECCM pilots a chance to swing the battle back to their side.
Edit: Dev update- they’re not going to nerf the Falcon to short range, and are making the Rook the brawler instead. Unfortunately they still seem to think Scorpions can survive at anything less than sniper range, and that they should not be able to fight beyond 140k. What the fuck?