So this is a topic that certainly has been discussed at length and my proposed fix may even have been mentioned before (if it has I just haven’t seen it). However, this is the internet and I feel the need to add my two cents to the pile. Also, sorry for the currently incredibly bland website. I’m working on it in between things.
The TL;DR for my proposed fix is to take away the current system and replace it with a system that increases the duration/cycle time of offensive, remote rep, and cap warfare modules. Sensor strength will still retain a role in minimizing these effects.
Those who see the issue don’t need convincing that ECM isn’t fun and compared to other E-War is a bit overpowered in the sense that instead of reducing some combat (or logistic or escape) capability it completely removes someone from the fight. For those that don’t agree with this assessment, I’m genuinely curious as to why you believe that ECM is balanced when compared to its current E-War counterparts. I’m not looking to make the playing field even for everyone, because lets be honest that just makes for a boring game. If you encounter any other type of E-War on the field though, you still have viable options or different tactics you can use to overcome it if necessary. ECM has the effect of making a fight completely one-sided, which is fine if you’re looking to boost killboard stats but you can accomplish that by joining xyz corporation/alliance/coalition and blobbing targets to your heart’s content. I’m trying to find a solution to allow for more gudfights for the little guy as it were, while not changing the mechanics to drastically for large fleet fights.
It’s a simple and perhaps not even the right solution to the problem, but one worth looking into in my opinion. To break it down a bit more, for offensive modules (read: missiles, turrets, smartbombs, etc.) this has the benefit of reducing incoming dps giving you or your fleet more time on the field. However, it still gives your opponent choices as well. They can still fit an ECCM module to help reduce the penalty, they can overheat, they have skills that they can train to help increase sensor strength, and they can even choose to try and disengage. Regardless of the option they end up picking, they are still a part of the fight and still able to make choices that can still change the outcome. The overall situation is similar with remote reps (shield, armor, and cap transfers) and cap warfare modules. You’re simply reducing their effectiveness without removing a significant number of options from them.
There are some issues to deal with though. The first is what is going to prevent someone from putting 15 ECM modules on a target and creating LOLcycle times? The easiest thing to do is to apply a stacking penalty to ECM applied to a single ship. You can still create considerable cycle times, but it should not be so much that a small autocannon will have the same cycle time as large artillery for example. As a quick side note, obviously this will not change how alpha works. It certainly prevents you from getting another shot off sooner, but alpha doctrine isn’t about quick cycle times (though the quicker the better). Overall I feel alpha fleets will generally be unaffected by this change.
Another point would be possibly expanding modules it effects, I’m not sure I care for this though. For example increasing duration on a local tank making hardners slower to overheat (but having a longer overheated cycle) and reducing local reps, making your target potentially easier to kill. Or allowing this to apply to other ewar modules could have some interesting benefits. No longer might you just be trying to ECM just your opponent, you might start trying to ECM your tackle so their warp/tracking disruptors/etc. last longer but use the same amount of cap (which in turn lets them run other modules longer). Like I said though, I am not sure I really care for applying ECM to other modules as it creates another situation where using ECM is more beneficial than other types of E-War since it more significantly impacts combat abilities of a ship.
This may also require some ECM modules to be reworked as well, those modules being ECM burst and the Remote ECM burst. Particularly the ECM Burst, since it can affect so many targets at once it should probably be changed to potentially have a reactivation delay and shorter cycle time. Maybe something like 10s duration with a reactivation delay of 20-30s. Otherwise you could make the module have a lower effect %, which (depending on how sensor strength plays a role) would make it a bit useless to me since you may be able to completely overcome the module with just the natural sensor strength on most ships. Remote ECM Burst with these changes could likely make do with a possible reduction in reactivation time, depending on the strength of the module. Of course it could also just remain the same and require more supers to be fielded if you want a constant decrease in dps/logi support abilities.
To expand on the previous post a bit, the final problem is just getting the modules (and possibly the ships) themselves balanced properly. Will it give a 5% increase to cycle time or 15% before ship/skill bonuses? Does the cycle time/cap usage/etc. of the ECM module itself need to be looked at? How will you calculate how much the module’s effects are reduced based on sensor strength? Do cycle times of other modules need to be looked at? Generally things that need testing/number crunching and/or just otherwise people smarter than me doing maths behind the scenes. Potentially a lot of work for a solution that may not even be the right answer to the problem. Hopefully I didn’t overlook any glaring problems. Other than that, what do you all think?