Battleships: Value, Capabilities, and Balance

Regarding Battleships, from my observations, it seems that a majority of Battleships (henceforth, BB's or BS's, including the CW Pheonix Ship BC) are lackluster or uncompetitive for a couple of reasons:

  • Expensive - Many BBs/BSs don't necessarily give the bang for your buck as lower tonnage ships that fulfill comparable roles. A good example I would point to is IN Retribution vs IN Avenger Grand Cruiser. Avengers are cheaper, and fulfill the role of close-range brawler, arguably, better at a more competitive price. Also Avengers can be taken in significant numbers with points still left for escorts or other options. I would point out that I think the Drukhari BBs/BSs, the Tau Merchant BBs/BSs, and Ork BBs/BSs seem to have generally competitive pricing and see relatively common usage (Correct me if I'm wrong of course). BBs/BSs are also vulnerable to concentrated boarding actions, since they can be swarmed by LCs and C's.
    What price changes or stat changes could Tindalos implement that would make BBs/BSs more attractive/competitive as fleet picks?

  • The most prominent reason for questionable value of high tonnage ships, I think, is the general lack of maneuverability of most BBs/BSs versus their smaller compatriots, especially Grand Cruisers. The lack of High Energy Turns, mobility skills (like MWJ), or rotation upgrades (found in campaign) significantly hinders the capacity of players to micro or effectively use BBs/BSs tactically. For example, lets briefly examine the Tau Custodian BB/BS. Let's say for the sake of argument the Protector fleet common strategy is medium range kiting and damage-over-time rather than brawling. For the Protector Fleet it is essential to keep your front arcs on the enemy always and to micro your ships with HET (high energy turns) and full speed to reposition and avoid enemy close range attacks. The Custodian has no easy way to maneuver or reposition or even fit the above Protector fleet doctrine (unless I have a poor understanding of BB/BS usage, in which case, please correct me and/or enlighten me). Moreover, the Tau don't have access to MWJ, which can alleviate some of the mobility problems of BBs/BSs. My thinking is that a Protector fleet would rather spend the points on extra escorts, LC's or C's due to better control. map control, and angles of attack.

I'll finish this post off with several questions to help find a solution (if it is even needed), and discuss tactics and strategies, to make BBs/BSs more competitive and viable for any player skill level. I suppose the assumption for this post is that I would like to see ships within factions balanced to such a point where players make difficult and interesting decisions when composing fleets. It is hard to ideally balance in such a way, yes, but an ideal necessary to strive for to make Fleet composition deeper, engaging, and fun.

On to the questions:

  • In what specific ways could BBs/BSs be balanced so that they compete with lower tonnage vessels of similar roles?
  • Which high tonnage ships seem to require the most amount of attention?
  • What are some examples of well balanced or competitive BBs/BSs?
  • What are some common tactical concepts to keep in mind when using BBs/BSs (be it faction specific or generic)?

I think BBs need to retain their limited mobility (aside from the Custodian). Back in the first closed beta they were used almost exclusively and the lack of manoeuvrability was what opened up counterplay.
BBs biggest two issues right now are:

  • overcosting
  • the fact that their size currently poses very little threat.

Expanding on my second point, ramming used to be extremely effective, even if your ship wasn’t necessarily intended for it, so all BBs presented a serious threat to bands of smaller ships that came too close. When ramming changed and became useless, the dynamic around BBs shifted.
I believe the devs should give ramming big buffs so that once again this mechanic is relevant.

I am just taking the Imperial battleships as an example, but some of this might apply to other ones as well:

While the Retribution has an incredible amount of HP and shields together with good medium range firepower and a devastating torpedo salvo, it is simply not able to bring this firepower into the fight because of its slow turning. I don't think BBs (naval coding used here, sry) should have the rotation boosters, but they should probably be a bit more nimble. It might be cheaper than most other BB, but the Avenger is even cheaper and does basically the same job.

The Emperor is largely fine, just a bit too pricey. The Exorcist does the same job (sitting in the back launching crafts) for 60 points less. A slight decrease in costs would already be enough here.

The Apocalypse is in a tough spot right now. With "lock on" activated it is actually ok...wouldn't there be a problem with the firing rate and generally all lance weapons in the game being to weak atm. The nova cannon works good on it, as it stays far away from the fighting sniping with lances the firing arc of the nova cannon is usually good enough to get off the three shots. Just fix those lances, dammit!

Lastly the Oberon: Jack of all trades for a price far exceeding its value. It is a medium range to long range BB whose lances suck, whose plasma macros don't hit shit at max range and whose launch bays are too small...for this price, at least.

Taking all this into consideration, most BBs would already be more useful if they would be cheaper, and if they would fix lances. Another thing would be to further increase their troop values, as they often get a bit isolated and then overwhelmed by CLs. Increasing their troop values and decreasing their point costs would allow you to give them an CL or two escorts as...well, escort to keep them more or less save.

The issue with conventional BBs rn is that they simply don't do enough damage for their price and large and exploitable weaknesses. A retri does 15 macro dps and 3 lance dps. The extra range on the macros is irrelevant due to armour and accuracy. The torps are hard to use due to the lack of het and most of its damage being broadside. That's awful for 306 points.