CCP is expected to announce the rules for Alliance Tournament 14 within the next couple weeks, and I've recently given some thought into how rules can be adjusted to make ATXIV more interesting for viewers and participants (not much else to do atm with EVE NT over). There are seven topics that I believe need some thought or attention, and it would be great to hear some other AT teams' captains / participants' views regarding the rule set.
1. Entry & Seeding
One thing that is clear from last year is that CCP needs to open up more slots to the PLEX bidding process. Only 4 slots were available last year, and teams had to bid more than 50 PLEX in order to get one of these slots. Some teams who are traditionally rather strong (like Red vs Blue) missed out on the tournament altogher because of this. The four teams who did win the PLEX bid were then rewarded with the worst bracket positions: having to face each other in round 1, and then either Camel Empire or Nulli Secunda (the AT12 1&2 teams) in round 2. This needs to be fixed.
Seeding the top teams from the previous tournament is a great step towards having a balanced bracket. Unfortunately, some of these alliances have either disbanded (e.g. Nulli), or splintered into new entities (e.g. Triumvirate / Volta) and presumably won't be seeded in the top 16 despite being essentially the same team as before. I don't know if there is any fair way for CCP to handle this, but I'd like to see teams with the same captain/players seeded in the same position.
-Extend an invite to the top 16 eligible teams from last year with the 1-16 seeds
-Fill 32 slots with a lottery
-Fill the final 16 slots using the PLEX bidding process
-Once the last 48 teams are determined, randomize their position in the bracket
In AT13 DPS drones were restricted to the T1 version only, which can be understood as a reaction against the dominance of drone ships in AT11 and AT12. This essentially made drone ships very weak in comparison to alternatives, and made repair drones and ECM drones an easy choice in ships which have utility drone bays.
Allowing mobile T2 drones to return will go a long way towards making DPS drones viable again. Mobile drones are still very vulnerable to battleships with smartbombs, which were quite common in AT13 as well as having damage application issues in general (drone AI & speed) compared to sentries.
Geckos and Augmented drones are a step up from T2 drones (similar to going from T1 to T2 drones) as they have better speed, better application and better damage. They also directly benefit the teams with the deepest wallets as they are the only ones who can afford always having them. For example in AT12 Tuskers ran Augmented drones at up to 250M a pop in the majority of our matches. This added up to a bill of 10-15B just for drones, which newer teams may struggle to afford.
T2 sentry drones dominated AT12 for reasons mentioned above and are much harder to counter (much more EHP, no drone travel time and much better range) so I would suggest removing them.
With this change, a return to an AT12 meta (which had near 100% usage of drone ships) would be somewhat unlikely.
-Allow T2 & Faction Mobile DPS Drones
-Ban Augmented Drones & Geckos
-Ban T2 & faction sentry drones (allow T1 sentry drones only)
3. Scripted E-war
Prior to the ban of scripted damps in AT13, virtually every comp had a few Mauluses in it as they were too good for the points value. If Mauluses were banned, teams would run Celestis or Keres instead. Also, teams ran at least unbonused damps (e.g. damp Merlins). This was because when boosted by command ship links and heated, bonused & scripted damps are overpowered within a tournament format, and are capable of reducing a ship's lock range to <10 km rather easily without being counterable with sensor boosters. Similarly, scripted disruptors have a similar strength. With scripts, a single Crucifier can reduce a ship's weapon's range by nearly 90%; or even more with information links.
The ban on scripted ewar introduced in AT13 had very positive effects on the meta and made damps useful in niche use cases but not oppressively powerful as they were in AT12. It's likely that the sebo tiericide (combining sebos & eccm into one module) will make damps even less useful than they were in AT13, but I think most people probably don't want to go back to the way things were.
- Remain as is for AT13 (ban scripts for damps, tracking disruptors, and guidance disruptors)
Tinkers are very unpopular. In particular, tinker vs. tinker matches are generally regarded as being very boring to watch, with matches often decided when one team runs out of cap boosters after the match has gone to reverse ti-di. I agree that this specific scenario should ideally be avoided somehow.
Some suggestions that I've seen before are:
-Complete ban of all cap transfers
-Ban remote repair mods from T3 cruisers
-Enforce a minimum ship count for each team (usually cited as somewhere around 10-12).
To address these in order:
Despite their unpopularity, tinkers do have a legimitimate purpose, and do keep setups based on extreme control & kiting from dominating all other setups. A broad cap transfer ban would have also implications on more conventional mobile setups. For example: I think it's perfectly reasonable to allow a cap transfer to be put on a Guardian to feed cap to your other ships.
If the goal is to restrict the tank of the most powerful tinkers, then this can be accomplished by removing remote reps from the Tengu and the Loki. The Basilisk & Proteus tank significantly less well, as do setups based around cap-transferring battleships with local tanks.
Enforcing a ship limit just feels artificial, and could prevent a lot of smaller teams from competing.
-Allow 1 cap transfer per ship (same rule as always)
-Ban remote repair modules on T3 cruisers
5. AT Ships & Other Uniques
This is a controversial topic, which received quite a bit of attention as the tournament came to a close last year. The arguments for & against are summarized below:
Arguments in favour of allowing AT ships:
-It's fun watching them in action. These ships are seldom undocked on TQ (although there is evidence to the contrary in the last month). Also gives their owners a "fair" arena to use their uniques.
-Technically speaking, the ships are accessible to every team who has sufficient motivation to acquire them. A quick glance at the forums shows that even the more rare/useful ones change hands very often.
-Many AT ships aren't good at all (Freki, Utu), or are only marginally better than non-unique alternatives (e.g. Chremoas). There is no real need to ban every unique out there.
Arguments against AT ships:
-A few of the AT ships are very strong in the AT format (Malice, Etana, etc), although my belief is that the strength of AT ships is probably overrated by most (Cambions are not "Drakes with frigate speed"!)
-Large number of these ships are held by a very small number of teams
-Ship are not seeded on sisi, so it's impossible for most teams to practice against them
Options for rule modification:
-Allow unique ships without restriction (no change from years past)
-Increase point cost of unique ships by 1 point.
-Allow only 1 AT ship hull in any given composition. A team could bring 1 Etana or 2 Cambions for example, but not both ship hulls within the same setup. This will restrict an excessively wealthy team from building one setup that's so powerful that no team could ever hope to match it by fielding multiple AT/unique ships in the same comp.
-Restrict them in some other way (allow them only on the final day of the tournament or something)
-Ban the use of all AT ships
I don't know what the best solution is, but I like seeing the ships in action and I lean towards being less restrictive. A 1 point increase is reasonable, although with even that change might be significant enough to eliminate all but perhaps the Etana from ever being fielded.
-Increase the point cost of all AT/Unique ships by 1 point
6. Misc Modules (Bastion, HIC point, MJFG)
Several unique modules released probably necessitate special rules for this tournament: the Bastion Module, Warp Disruption Field Generator (aka the 37.5km scram), and the Command Destroyer Micro Jump Field Generator.
My opinion: The Bastion Module and MJFG need to be banned simply because I don't think they can be balanced in a tournament format – the Bastion module makes a Marauder excessively tanky in a 12vs12 sub-cap format and the MJFG could easily allow a skilled team to win a match even from the jaws of defeat with a single good jump. On the other hand, the changes to HICs might actually make the ship viable in a tournament format, thus I believe it's reasonable to allow one WDFG to be fitted per HIC. A concern if they are allowed without restriction is that they could be too powerful within a tinker setup, essentially capable of stopping all bump attempts by itself.
-Ban Bastion module
-Allow one WDFG per HIC
-Ban micro jump field generator
7. Ship Points
This is one area that could use quite a bit of adjustment. Frankly, a lot of ships are not very strong or useful in the AT, and a big reason for this is that the point cost for many ships is far too high for the value they provide. This is a proposal for ship point costs (if the value is different from what was used in AT13, I put the AT13 point cost in parenthesis).
Battleship, Pirate Faction – 19
Marauder - 18 (19)
Battleship, Navy Faction - 17
Black Ops Battleship - 17
Battleship - 16
Command Ship - 16
Strategic Cruiser - 13/16 (16) - 13 if remote reps are banned on T3s, otherwise 16
Logistics Cruiser - 13
Recon Ship - 12 (13)
Battlecruiser, Navy Faction – 12
Heavy Assault Cruiser - 11 (12)
Battlecruiser (including the Gnosis) - 11
Cruiser, Pirate Faction - 11
Heavy Interdictor - 11
Tech 1 Support Cruiser - 9 (10)
Cruiser, Navy Faction - 8 (9)
Tactical Destroyer - 6
Command Destroyer - 5
Cruiser - 5 (6)
Electronic Attack Frigate - 5
Logistics Frigate - 4
Frigate, Pirate Faction - 4
Assault Frigate - 4
Interdictor – 4
Covert Ops Ship - 3 (4)
Frigate, Navy Faction - 3 (Includes Navy e-war frigates)
Tech 1 Disruption Frigate – 3
Stealth Bomber - 3
Interceptor - 3
Destroyer - 2 (3)
Tech 1 Industrial Ships - 2
Frigate - 2
Rookie Ship, Pirate Faction - 2
Rookie Ship - 1
BCs and HICs: These ships have been buffed considerably since the last AT, but they were also rarely used at all, and thus should keep the same point cost.
Recons, HACs, T1 Cruisers: Get a point reduction because these ships have almost never been used in previous ATs despite class buffs. Recons in particular could even be lowered to 11 possibly. These ships potentially open up a lot of new interesting setups, but the point value has always been way too high to facilitate this in the past.
Command Destroyers: 5 points is appropriate. As DPS / tackle ships, they are more much similar to assault frigates than T3Ds, but have the benefit of carrying a link which is certainly worth 1 point (considering they have a sig of a Destroyer).
T2 Logi Frigs: Frigate logi in general is kind of in a bad place, so these need to be 3 or 4 points. More than this means they will never be used.
Anyway, just some thoughts..