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Published November 3, 2012

It's no big secret that I'm not a fan of ECM mechanics. Others who small gang or solo roam typically agree ECM requires little skill and leaves its victims with few options for a full twenty seconds, which is an infuriatingly long time in the midst of combat. I wrote a thing a while back describing in detail what is wrong and what should be done, but did CCP listen?

Kind of.

CCP Fozzie is pretty good at what he does. I like Tiericide, for the most part. The subtle nerfs to the Drake and Hurricane don't leave them obsolete, but will certainly reduce their effectiveness in blobs. T1 frigates and cruisers which were previously unused or underused are now powerful in a focused respect; they have roles, much like their T2 counterparts. Generally I've agreed with Fozzie's vision and I've been optimistic about where it may lead. And when Fozzie says "We're going to fix ECM," I believe him.

So today Fozzie posted an interesting piece of news to the Eve-O forums here. It covered Sensor Dampening (which is getting a buff), Tracking Disruption (getting nerfed in general, buffed on specialist ships), Target Painters (getting a slight buff), and finally ECM, which is getting a few changes:

*Reduce Optimal Range and Falloff of all ECM modules by 10%
*Add to the Optimal Range and Falloff bonus on ECM range bonused ships by 2.5% for the Blackbird and Tengu Obfuscation Manifold (bringing it to 12.5%) and 5% for the Scorpion (bringing it to 25%)
*Add four new racial sensor compensation skills that increase each type of Sensor Strength by 5% per level (Requires Electronics 4, rank 3 skills in the Electronics category)

So non-ECM boats, ECM Recons and ECM frigates are getting a range nerf while the Blackbird and Tengu will get a slight range buff (12.5% - 10% = 2.5%) and the Scorpion will get a fairly massive one (25% - 10% = 15%). This is not an ECM nerf: This, like the tracking disruptor nerf, affects popular fleet hulls (Drakes and Zealots come to mind) with "utility mids" often filled with TDs or ECM. The real change is the last part concerning four new skills which increase sensor strength. 

As you probably know, ECM works by comparing the strength of the activated ECM module with the target's sensor strength. When sensor strength is higher, ECM has less chance of working. But sensor strength also determines how easily a ship is probed down, with higher sensor strength being favored by things like booster T3's and Command Ships. This skill does not discriminate between ECM (which many feel is broken) and ship probing (which is fine). It's also a pain to train a skill merely to address a single type of Ewar, and even moreso when you consider that you need to train four separate skills in order to gain the sensor strength boost across all races. It doesn't help that these are also Rank 3 skills, making them a considerable skillpoint sink.

Retribution will not have the ECM nerf we need, and it's probably not the one Fozzie wants, either. The end of the post mentions that "these changes are not the final solution for ewar by a long shot, they are incremental changes that will build towards the more complete changes we would like to make to the mechanics." In other words, there's not enough time before December 4th to implement a fully-loaded Ewar overhaul, but we should expect something bigger and better SoonTM

Hilmar Keller
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