Brainstorming some ideas for Assault Frigates

Assault Frigates have been struggling to justify their existence for awhile now. More so recently, with the introduction of the Tactical Destroyers, or T3Ds . While few Assault Frigates have been put to use to good effect in cheap, easy to train doctrines like Harpy and Hawk fleets employed by The Imperium and others, the vast majority of the Assault Frigates are struggling to find a justifiable reason to not collect dust in everyone’s hangers. With prices of Tactical Destroyers being what they are now, Tactical Destroyers cost less to lose than an Assault Frigate does, Obsoleting them on Price and Performance.

So how can we fix that? My honest opinion is that Assault Frigates have an acceptable level of performance for a Frigate Hull, they can fight on-par with most Tech I Destroyers, while having the warp speed of a Frigate, The mobility of Assault Frigates is fairly bad and I’ll cover that in-depth in a later point of this article. Right now, Assault Frigates are the only Tech 2 Frigate that do not have a defined role, EAFs have powerful Ewar/Recon bonuses, Interceptors are dedicated Tacklers, Covert Ops do sneaky stuff and exploration, Stealth Bombers do high DPS and bomb people, Assault Frigates just tank more and do more damage, at expense of mobility. What roles could we give them that would make them an interesting option, without boosting the power of them significantly.

One interesting thing about Assault Frigates is that they all have a spare utility highslot, I think this could tie in with some cool bonuses. Here are a few which I think would be really cool.

Role Bonus: 50% Reduced CPU and Power-Grid Requirements of Energy Vampires, 25% Faster Cycle time of Energy Vampires. 
This would allow Assault Frigates to more easily fit a nosferatu module in the utility high slot, and it would have greater effectiveness, I think it would be cool if Assault Frigates could function more easily as ships which can fight vs bigger ships (by being less vulnerable to energy warfare and being able to recover from energy pressure from neuts being applied from bigger ships), the faster cycle time would also make neuting tackle away from Assault Frigates much more difficult, moving them to more of a secondary hard to remove tackler role would also be fairly cool in my opinion. This wouldn’t really boost them as much in power vs smaller ships, unless they are dedicated energy warfare platforms because nosferatu only drains when your cap amount is lower than your target’s absolute amount.

Role Bonus: 90% Reduced Power-Grid Requirements of Entosis Links. (Maybe a cycle time bonus too?) 
This would be a cool bonus. I don’t think it would really change all that much for assault Frigates, but being able to fit a 1 PG + 1 CPU Tech I Entosis would actually be pretty cool for a lot of Assault Frigates as they wouldn’t have to sacrifice any fittings to achieve this. Would make Harpy/Hawk doctrines etc. able to field Entosis links easily into their doctrines if needed, and solo/small gang players could easily stick an Entosis link onto an Assault Frigate. The PG reduction wouldn’t really allow for T2 entosis outright, as it would still require 500 cap per cycle and the 1,000,000 added mass would cripple Assault Frigate mobility further, but would potentially be a possibility.

Role Bonus: Can Fit Warfare Link Modules, 90% Reduction in CPU and Power-Grid Requirements of Warfare links. (Tech I: 5CPU  / 10PG, Tech II: 5.5 CPU / 11 PG)
Warfare Links definately need some kind of rework in their current state, but giving AFs the possibility of running links could make for some interesting on-grid options in the future if CCP makes links on-grid only. This would also allow AFs to bring links in through small frigate sized wormholes and into shattered Frigate wormholes which would be another cool possibility. Being able to just slap a link onto an Assault Frigate could also help AFs see more small gang use when a dedicated booster is not being used. Wouldn’t obsolete CS/BCs or T3s because lack of bonuses and near-inability to fit Command Processor module (150 CPU / 50 Grid) means they’ll only be able to run 1, or 2 in a really dedicated fit.

Role Bonus: 25% Neutralizer Reflect Amount
Stealing the benefits from 2 Large Cap Batteries. This could be a cool bonus in making them punish larger ships for neuting them, and giving similar benefits to the nosferatu bonus proposed above. Although I think the nosferatu bonus is cooler playing on the fact that they all have a utility high slot.

Assault Frigates have fairly terrible agility and speed, they are slower than both Interdictors and Tactical Destroyers in propulsion mode. Let’s take a look at Assault Frigate MWD speeds and how that compares to the Tech I Combat Frigate Counterpart.

Note: All Level V characters used for this, the figures given are all with a meta MWD. The ships are otherwise unfitted (no speed mods/plates etc.)

ASSAULT FRIGATES FRIGATES DIFFERENCE IN SPEED
Ship Name Speed Ship Name Speed Speed Difference % Difference
Hawk 2,223 Kestrel 2,791 568.00 -25.55%
Harpy 2,218 Merlin 2,838 620.00 -27.95%
Ishkur 2,338 Tristan 3,048 710.00 -30.37%
Enyo 2,400 Incursus 3,049 649.00 -27.04%
Jaguar 2,711 Rifter 3,213 502.00 -18.52%
Wolf 2,564 Rifter 3,213 649.00 -25.31%
Retribution 2,317 Punisher 2,930 613.00 -26.46%
Vengeance 2,284 Punisher 2,930 646.00 -28.28%
Average: -26.19%

So on average, Assault Frigates are 26% slower than the Combat Frigate counterpart they best represent. It’s worth pointing out that the Jaguar is significantly faster than most of the other AFs, probably part of it’s balancing budget. The Ishkur is the slowest AF in terms of % difference.

So how do Heavy Assault Cruisers compare to Cruisers I wonder?

HEAVY ASSAULT CRUISERS DIFFERENCE IN SPEED
Ship Name Speed Ship Name Speed Speed Difference % Difference
Cerberus 1,744 Caracal 1,897 153.00 -8.77%
Eagle 1,582 Moa 1,560 -22.00 1.39%
Ishtar 1,591 Vexor 1,677 86.00 -5.41%
Deimos 1,941 Thorax 2,045 104.00 -5.36%
Vagabond 2,473 Stabber 2,455 -18.00 0.73%
Muninn 1,913 Rupture 1,708 -205.00 10.72%
Zealot 1,676 Omen 2,035 359.00 -21.42%
Sacrilege 1,663 Maller 1,593 -70.00 4.21%
Average: -2.99%

On Average Heavy Assault Cruisers are only 3% slower than the Tech I Combat Counterparts! oyyyy

It’s worth pointing out that there are a few anomalies here, The Zealot is significantly slower than the Omen, although it’s probably because the Omen is an Attack Cruiser while the Zealot fulfills more of a Sniper/Tanky AHAC frontline role. The Muninn is a bit faster than the Rupture, otherwise, all hacs fall within a close distance.

COMBAT CRUISERS VS HAC COUNTER PARTS ONLY
HEAVY ASSAULT CRUISERS DIFFERENCE IN SPEED
Ship Name Speed Ship Name Speed Speed Difference % Difference
Eagle 1,582 Moa 1,560 -22.00 1.39%
Ishtar 1,591 Vexor 1,677 86.00 -5.41%
Muninn 1,913 Rupture 1,708 -205.00 10.72%
Sacrilege 1,663 Maller 1,593 -70.00 4.21%
Average: 2.73%

Here is a comparison of only the Combat Cruiser hulls vs Heavy Assault Cruiser Counterparts, These HACs are actually faster than the Cruiser hulls they represent on Average. Although the Muninn is somewhat of an out-of-character result as mentioned earlier. The Ishtar is the only HAC slower than its T1 Combat Counterpart, the Vexor. And that’s only because the Ishtar was nerfed by 10m/s in one of the expansions as part of an earlier attempt to balance its dominance last year.

I think increasing Assault Frigate Speeds by about 10% would be a reasonable proposal. This would bring the average Assault Frigate speed to just under 15% slower than T1 Combat Frigates, which I think would be a fair proposal. T1 Combat Frigates being faster gives them breathing room to exist and avoid Assault Frigates in engagements.

ASSAULT FRIGATES (PROPOSED) FRIGATES DIFFERENCE IN SPEED
Ship Name Speed Ship Name Speed Speed Difference % Difference
Hawk 2,445 Kestrel 2,791 345.70 -14.14%
Harpy 2,440 Merlin 2,838 398.20 -16.32%
Ishkur 2,572 Tristan 3,048 476.20 -18.52%
Enyo 2,640 Incursus 3,049 409.00 -15.49%
Jaguar 2,982 Rifter 3,213 230.90 -7.74%
Wolf 2,820 Rifter 3,213 392.60 -13.92%
Retribution 2,549 Punisher 2,930 381.30 -14.96%
Vengeance 2,512 Punisher 2,930 417.60 -16.62%
Average: -14.71%
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Brainstorming some ideas for Assault Frigates

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