The Great Orca Nerf
As many people have noticed by now, the last Incursion patch brought some, shall we say unspoken changes along with it. The biggest, and curiously most un-announced of these is a major nerf to the Orca, specially its ability to let you swap ships.
Pretty much since its inception into the game, the Orca has become almost a necessary tool for ninjaing and ganking in any meaningful and productive way. Having become victims of our own successes, it was quickly becoming evident that mission runners were no longer willing to complacently wait around in their missions after shooting you to let you go back to station, wait out the various timers, and come back in massive ganking battleship to knock them into submission.
The Orca came at the perfect moment for our profession, as it allowed you to bring the fight to the mission runner quicker, more efficiently, and sometimes, without even leaving the scene. It was the perfect combination of high-sec carrier and logistics platform, and its pretty much been the smoking gun behind 90% of mission runner kills in the past 18 or so months.
One of the more headlining features was the ability to utilize the Orca’s ship maintenance bay to swap ships during a fight, effectively allowing you to start a fight with one ship, and then swap to various other ships once you were engaged. This has of course been called cheating, a broken mechanic, and an exploit by pretty much everyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of this for as long as we’ve been doing it, but I call it escalation. Concord allows you to destroy my ship because I stole one piece of t1 ammo from your can? Lets call this the equalizer.
However, after the latest Incarna patch, we quickly noticed something had changed. Ninjas would get shot in one ship, bringing the Orca in to swap to a gank ship (par the norm), but then they would find themselves UNABLE to switch ships, receiving the following message:
“You are unable to change ships as it appears you are currently trying to evade CONCORD or player retribution”
Normally, this is the message you get when trying to STORE your ship while under fire, not while trying to SWITCH ships. Petitions went in for the bug and we awaited the reply.
The GM response is now in:
The Orca change was a bug fix, you weren’t ever supposed to be able to swap ships while being aggressed. It was an exploit to do so actually, it was just hard for us to detect it. I’m afraid we have no plans of changing this back, but you’re welcome to offer your feedback on this game mechanic on the forums.
To be clear:
You are no longer able to swap ships out of the Orca WHILE BEING AGGRESSED. This is NOT a bug, this is a GM CONFIRMED PATCH.
I’d be lying if I said no one saw this coming, but it still sucks. Being able to switch a Vigil for a Hurricane mid-fight, or even switch from a Hurricane to an escape shuttle mid-fight always seemed slightly one-sided to me, but of course it also seemed more than slightly awesome as well. Regardless, I’ve never viewed it as an “exploit” (actually about a year ago actually, a similar nerf idea was on the table, which I responded to here). Being out-smarted is just that, but it seems that if enough remorseful victims cry “unfair, they shouldn’t be able to shoot BACK!” CCP starts to listen.
Some people have put forward the idea recently that ninja salvaging is “dying”, and thats its decline and eventual demise is all but secured, and there are those who would say that this nerf does just that. Personally, I don’t see the nerfs and patches that have hit ninja salvaging pretty hard in the past year or so as the pale horse for the profession; I see it as raising the bar.
For a long time now, ninja salvaging and ganking has been a relatively low-skill intensive profession in Eve. In fact, it takes about 2 months and a healthy amount of blog reading for a completely new player to Eve Online to be able to scan down and shoot most mission runners. While part of me always thought this was one of the best parts about what we do (and indeed, it played a MAJOR part in myself and my contemporaries even getting into the ninja game), I also believe we’re at a point now where its such a recognized part of the game that it NEEDS some sort of entry barrier.
Some have called the recent change to scanning a “scan nerf”, yet in reality its actually a change in the right direction. For the first time really, scanning skills ACTUALLY matter. I sometimes used to fairly effectively scan down hits using a probe launcher on my Orca with level 3 astrometric skills on my alt while I poked around missions. Thats ridiculous. Now, even scanning in a CovOps with almost all level 5 scanning skills and faction gear and probes, I’m still re-teaching myself the scanning ropes.
As always, I think the beauty of this game is in its fluidity; that things DON’T stay the same and that you’ve got to be smart to stay ahead. By no means does this recent nerf make Orcas or the toons you’ve trained to fly them obsolete, it just requires a little lateral thinking and some new ideas. If you’d rather log in and do the same actions with the same results every single time without having to think about it at all, well, there’s another profession out there that handles that. Its called mission running.