Saturday, September 26, 2009

ECM and why it does not need more nerf bat love

ECM... Such a hated or loved style of warfare depending on what side I'd the line you are on.

Well this pilot for one, is firmly on the love side, even while being jammed.

Let's first clear up some things about ECM that non jamming folks might not consider while they spew their hate and discontent over a subject they don't fully understand. I'll mostly be talking about the Force Recon ships. IE: Falcon, Arazu, Pilgrim, and the Rapier. Also the reported ranges are taking into account the same character with all level 5 skills to make for an even comparison of the ships, and the primary roll of the ship will be compared.

1) Tank or lack there of: The best of the best ECM ships are of caldari origin. This means that they are shield tankers and must use mid slots for their tank. Unlike any other recon ship in the game, caldari pilots must choose either better tank or more effective ECM. The other races don't have this choice as their tanking is done with their low slots, leaving the mids open for perfectly effective EWAR of whatever race bonus they get. The overall effect is that the caldari pilot is flying in a multimillion isk paper bag that T1 drones can decimate in little to no time at all. More on this a bit later though.

2) A thing called range: Now the gripe I hear most often when it comes to ECM haters is the range that the ECMers are effective from. The hatred was much worse before the recent patches, and while I agree the ECM ships needed to be closer to the battle, I feel that CCP may have over done it a bit. Now unlike all the other recon ships the ECM effect is done on a die roll while still in optimal range. This means that while the target painter, sensor damp, or tracking disruptor all just work while inside of optimal, the jammer does not. Their are rigs/mods that will increase the chance to get a jam, but at the end of the day it still comes down to a dice roll.

It complicates matters a bit more once you start to get into falloff. As most of us know, once into about half of your falloff range its about at 50% chance whatever is operating at that range is going to hit. This same principle applies to ECM, however its effects are much worse. Once a jammer is at half of its falloff range that 50% rule comes into play, but their is one slight issue with that. Since ECM is in and of it self a percent change, or dice roll, you are now making two chance rolls. The first is if the ECM will even fire at all, and the second is if that fire will be a success or not. So effectively, if your jammer had a 50% chance to get a jam on a target, it would now be reduced to 25%, while the other non-ECM EWAR folks still have a 50% chance of success.

As such, it becomes inefficient for an ECM operator to function outside of their optimal range, while other EWAR functions at the same efficiency as ECM half way into falloff. It is with this comparison that I argue that the falcon in fact has the least effective range of all the recon ships. The table below will show the fittings used in each comparison.

The fits were designed for pure range so a side by side comparison could accurately be conducted. The ranges where 50% of the time EWAR would be successfull are as follows:

  • Falcon = 74km racial, 50km multispec (both optimal)
  • Arazu = 108km (63km optimal + 45km falloff for 50% die roll)
  • Pilgrim = 119km (101km optimal + 18km falloff for 50% die roll)
  • Rapier = 108km (63km optimal + 45km falloff for 50% die roll)
So for the same effectiveness of EWAR the caldari recon variant comes in 34-58km shorter than the rest of the pack. No more wining about range...

3) Where art thou countermeasures: Interestingly enough, I think most people forget about ECCM, and the really interesting bit is that only ECM has a counter to it. Their is no such mod you can place on your ship to help it from being painted, damped or tracking disrupted. That is not the case with ECCM. Just load up your races variant ECCM, activate the mod, and you have just made an EMCers life much harder, since you have just reduced his or her chance to get a successful jam cycle on you. The best part is, that if your any race but caldari, chances are you have a free mid slot anyway. Sorry caldari guys, it sucks having to tank with the mid slots.

The other item of contest I hear a lot of is that once your jammed you are combat ineffective. While this is true in the majority of the cases, it is not always the case. You always have the option of F0F missiles if your ship has launchers, and then there is the great equalizer...Drones.
Drones will chew through a recon ship in seconds flat (refer to point #1) and they completely ignore if their 'master' is jammed. If a Falcon pilot is w/in drone control range (refer to point #2) and jams a ship that has drones out, those drones will happily remove said pilot of his ship, all the while the drones owner is 'helpless'. I have seen this happen on many occasions, and its a real long as its the other guys ECM going down. Also, the best way to counter act an enemies ECM is with...wait for it...ECM of your own. Most of the time they are focused on jamming you, giving you time to sneak your ECM ships in and jam them. I know this sort of lends it self to the old adage of if you cant beat them join them, but it works all the same.

Now these were just a few of the points that I could come up with for why the nerf bat should stay very far way from ECM. I didn't even touch on the fact that the other races ship get a dual roll bonus (IE: Neut/Nos, Web, Scram) while the ECM only get that single ability.

But alas, such is the life of the poor ECM pilot. Misunderstood by many, hated by many many more.


  1. I'm not trying to be a dick here but I completely disagree with most of your points and a lot of what you're saying is pretty inaccurate or unrealistic:

    (1) Your tank argument isn't very well aligned with how people actually fly these ships. Most recons fit shield tanks with only the occasional ones using armor tanks. I fit my Curse and Lachesis with a shield tank.

    (2) Again I'm not sure how you came up with the whole idea of Falcons having to be in close. Of all the Recons, they are probably the most effective at range or at least tied with the Arazu/Lachesis. Curse/Pilgrim/Rapier/Huginn have to be in between 10 to 30km when using normal T2 gear.

    (3) Your table is making some weird assumptions about how people fit their ships. Their isn't anything stopping people from fitting shield extenders or a damage control to a Falcon, they just decide not to do it. Also, for an Arazu/Lachesis to be even SLIGHTLY effective with remote sensor damps, they generally need at least three of them in their mids. This takes out half the mids of an Arazu which is a ship that pretty much requires a propulsion mod, a point and cap booster just to keep the damps running... and a Huginn/Rapier with 1 web? That isn't going to be useful. They usually need to fit 2-3 just to be effective against one or two other ships at best.

    (4) The range argument is just so bad I don't even know where to start... why would someone sit at 118km and tracking disrupt with a Pilgrim that has to be within 12km to neut? Why would someone remote sensor damp from 100km in an Arazu when they need to be within 30-40km to apply a point or do any DPS? The distances are NOT aligned with how/where people actually fly these ships. The Falcon DOES operate often at its max optimal range and generally it is the furthest out of the fight and safest of any Recon on the field.

    (5) The ECCM argument is terrible. There ARE mods that cancel out damps (sensor boosters) and there are mods that cancel out tracking disruptors (they're called tracking enhancers/tracking computers) but unlike ECCM, those mods actually give useful benefits outside of simply countering the E-war. ECCM is weak, i wastes a midslot which is VERY useful to every ship of every class (sensor booster, scram, disruptor, mwd, ab, cap booster, web, etc) and having to waste it on a useless module that only MAYBE helps in a very specific situation is silly as hell.

    Conclusion: There is a reason ECM is hated. It's not because it's misunderstood or because people don't know how to counter it. It is because it is overpowered and imbalances combat, especially in small gangs and thus ruins the fun. It should be changed or removed.

  2. @Spectre - Thank you for your comments. It always nice to hear from the other side.

    Allow me to try and counter your points =)

    (1) For starters, I was only referring to the force recon ships. I know the Curse has a hell of a shield tank. I've unfortunately been on the wrong side of that guy a few times. Secondly, taking into account where the resistances are, and the amount of hit points a ship has in its shield/armor along with the number of slots mid or low, should typically indicate where the tank should fall. In the case of force recons the majority is for armor tanking.

    (2) I never stated the Falcon had to be in close. It was an observation of the opinion that a number of people have, stating that the falcon has too much range.

    (3) The table was just showing where I got my range numbers from. They weren't even complete fits, as a complete fit would have no bearing on the effective range of the EWAR.

    (4) Again, I am referring to force recon's only. While the Pilgrim does an amazing job at zapping an opponents capacitor, it gets a much larger bonus to its tracking disruptor's, allowing it to sit further back and prevent an enemies turrets from striking moving targets. The Curse on the other hand, gets a larger bonus to its nos/neut capabilities making it more suited for that roll. The Arazu and Rapier are both special cases, as they have a secondary roll that is invaluable in combat. While they may only have a 40km range for this other roll, they are still quite effective in their EWAR roll from much further away, and being that this point was specifically about EWAR range, DPS and secondary roll's are not taken into account.

    (5) I will agree with you on this point. ECCM does need a rework. ECCM, however, is the only mod that will completely counter ECM EWAR. You mention sensor bosters and tracking computers. These mods do not elevate you from all the effects of the EWAR they counter, they just reduced the effect not remove it. You are still getting damped, and disrupted, but you have bonuses to offset the EWAR. Maybe ECCM should do the same, reduce the time jammed or something along those lines.

    Conclusion: The fact is that ECM ships are going to be out on ops, and if you don't plan for this by bringing your own, or fitting up ECCM, then you have no room to wine when you fall victim to it. Also note that while you might not be having fun in your gang w/out ECM, the guys that brought the ECM and just toasted your gang are having fun, and will continue to do so.