Gooder Eve: Module Based ECM

Gooder Eve is a series of on-going articles that examine ways in which Eve can be made Gooder.  Some are serious, some are not, but all are intended to create debate, dialogue, and discussion.  So enjoy! ]

As I was sitting in my Vengeance above the station yesterday watching Akirra 1v1 a Tusker, and then get derped by two other Tuskers, one of which was in a Griffin, I started to wonder. Not about a once proud corporations demise, but about ECM in Eve.

Later that afternoon I was sitting in a Drake waiting to see if this knuckle-head in a Gnosis would return to his mission or not, when about eight or nine wonderful little AFs entered local. I smiled and waited to see where they would land, totally planning on warping in on them and having some fun. When my d-scan detected the Griffin they had along with them. I decided not to engage. Sure, I might get lucky and take him out quickly, but I also might suffer a rather long and protracted death waiting for a bunch of gnats to kill me while powerless to do a damn thing about it.

ECM in Eve is a blanket expression of ultimate frustration. Once jammed you are pretty much screwed. And there is little you can do about it. Sure there are ECCM modules, target-breakers, defender missiles, and a few other options. Like bring your own ECM. And while each of these does have its merits, and they do, they are all pretty useless when it comes right down to it.

This isn't intended as a rant against ECM as much as a thought-starter about how it could be even better. So hang with me a minute. As much as I personally loathe Falcons and consider ECM to be dishonorable, I am actually going to pitch an idea to make them better. And not so dishonorable.

Right now ECM essentially breaks lock and ensures that it stays broken while the target is effected by the jam cycle. Which can be short or forever depending on the skill of the player, module type, target skill, etc. But essentially, breaking lock is the power of the ECM boat. But what if its power lay in other areas? What if you could shut off specific modules of the enemy without breaking lock?

Imagine ECM worked like this instead, each module affected another type of module. In other words, a Missile ECM would stop missile launchers from firing. A Prop ECM would cause your prop mod from working. A Rep ECM would interfere with your Rep cycles. Guns, hardeners, TDs, pretty much any specific type of module could potentially have a specific type of counter.

In that case I might have chosen to attack the AF gang with their Griffin, even knowing that he could have potentially shut down my Adaptive Hardeners for example. At least my missiles would still work. And my drones. Or, perhaps, he could have turned off my MWD? Or my drones? At least I could still fight back, even wounded.

It is, I think, an interesting idea. And once you start thinking about it, it seems to open up the potential for some interesting applications. At the very least, ECM might be a more respected and essential part of gang/fleet doctrines. An entire swarm of Falcons that could effectively eliminate the enemy fleets ability to Rep? Or Nuet? Or Cyno? ( Imagine shutting down a Cyno just as it starts? )

I like the idea. What are your thoughts?


  1. I still maintain that the problem is not the ECM module, but the ships that have so many medium slots to fit so many of them. A griffin with 1-2 ECM modules becomes a lot less scary, a Falcon with three would not overpower as easily, etc.

  2. Well that would be another way to approach it and might work, mostly I think ECM needs some attention and some balancing. Taking it in a new direction, or limiting it as is, or both.

  3. I was thinking something like Void Missiles would be good. Missiles that do "cap drain" like Void Bombs. Then "Defender" versions of the missiles could really do a number on ECM boats.

    That, or a mid-slot module anti-ECM module that works like the Cap Battery (?) called a Phase Inversion Signal Switcher or something. It has a chance of rebounding the ECM attack back at the attacker.

    You're idea is sort of already in the game. Sensor Dampers and Tracking Disruptors are more along the lines of single module type disruption. The same with Warp Scramblers (against MWD), Webs (against normal propulsion and Afterburners), even Nos and Neuts (Cap/Cap using modules). ECM is just so much more power because almost every offensive module and more than a few defensive ones in Eve requires a target lock.

    I like your idea, though you may end up with some extra-specialized ship and fleet setups as a result.

  4. I've used ECM myself all of two times. One to break a friend out of a group that had baited, tackled, and held him in a protracted fight. The other time was engaging a machariel solo with my blackbird (that didn't go so well).

    Honestly though, I feel that ECM isn't nearly as broken as it's made out to be. ECM gets a lot of flak because it's chance based. That's not the problem though. A turret hitting is chance based. It's just a faster cycle time, and there are more grouped together, so it averages out a lot quicker than ECM does.

    I agree with you that the problem is that ECM is an all or nothing effect. It either does nothing (for a cycle), or it completely impairs your ability to fight back. So let's tackle that problem.

    Because you can a sensor booster can diminish a damp's effectiveness to a workable level, people say that ECCM should be used in just the same way. Problem solved, right? Well, no. Because it just decreases the chance of receiving an ECM effect, not the severity of it. So, my proposition:

    ECM should retain it's target breaking and jamming ability. It should just include other aspects of the target ship's sensors to determine the severity. Example: Player A activates an ECM module on Player B. Player B's sensor strength is compared to Player A's ECM strength to determine an 'ECM ugliness ration'. The ugliness ratio is used as the chance that the ECM cycle will be effective at all. If the cycle is effective, the ugliness ratio is then used to determine the severity of ECM effects. Those effects consist of having one or more of their targeting 'slots' removed temporarily. (A ship has a number of targeting slots equal to the max number of targets they can lock - a rifter has 4, a jaguar has 6, etc) Target locks in those slots are broken, and those slots are unavailable to use for a period of time which is determined, again, by the ugliness ratio.

    If Player A has good ECM strength and Player B has poor sensor strength, it's quite possible that a pair of ECM modules could still keep him completely locked out of the fight. However, if Player B chooses to fit ECCM, signal amplifiers, auto-targeting units, sensor boosters, and/or fly a ship which has higher base sensor strength or max locked targets, Player B will have a chance to continue fighting because they'll likely be able to maintain one or two open targeting slots. So even though their lock might be broken, they'll be able to lock back up right away in many cases, and after a few seconds in other cases. Meanwhile, the ECM module will still be cycling at it's full 20 (or should we change it to 30) second cycle time.

  5. Instead of breaking the lock and forcing a relock, ECM shoudl make the lock 'stutter' (soemtimes strength is good and soemtimes strength is bad) . You are ECM'd but have a lock on a ship. You fire your guns but instead of hitting each cycle, they may miss a cycle because your lock was not strong enough. This gives you a chnace to apply damage (although at a lower rate than normal) so you coudl potentially clear drones (if slowly) or you could switch a sensor dampener onto the ECMer and (eventually) get a damp on him.

    A simpler alternative may be just to extend the cycle time of all aggresive, active, targeted modules (simulating the extra time required by your systems to fight through the effects of the ECM)

  6. I suggest that ECM should instead of dropping all locks, drop up to your total number of available locks, based on comparative ECM and sensor strengths. No longer chance based. If your ship can handle 5 locks, and you "loose' 4, then you still keep 1 lock for the rest of the cycle. If you are in a 1:1, you'd keep that last lock.

    For ships that can lock multiple ships, obviously, they'd take more ECM to completely lock down. Ships that can only lock 5 ships are at a greater risk of loosing all ships. This would keep logistics at least moving, as they could swap out non-targeted ships and try to relock ships under duress.

    I do not know the ratio of ECM to sensor strength to guarantee a 100% lockdown that would work; its just a working thought

  7. Whilst the suggestions above are interesting, they miss the problem of ECM: it doesn't force a specific play time, it only stops play all together. Sensor damps force you to get closer, Tracking disruptors do the same, but also force you to fly in straight lines to hit.

    With that in mind, ECM should force a different game play. With my limited imagination, I can only think of forcing long range weapons. Have ECM produce an inverted Senor Damp effect: a minimum distance to lock.

    This means that a target could not lock anything under (around!) 8k, but still able to do so at longer range.

    You keep the use of getting a tackle off a friend, but still allow the target to have a slingshot chance to run away from close range ECMers, and also have the jamming ship vulnerable to your own fire.

    In a role-play sense, Caldari weapon manufacturers were looking for a way to prevent Gallente blaster tactics. They came up with this, which forced the Gallente to go into higher orbits, into blaster fall-off, but more favourable for rail tracking.

  8. How about anti-ecm mods that use cap (turn it on like a shield booster and it provides a bunch more eccm but at a steep price) this way you always have a couple of seconds to get out your drones/hit them with some shots etc.. before you get locked out.

  9. How about anti-ECM missiles homing on any source of ECM ? and anti-ECM mode for drones ?
    this missiles should be fast firing, long range capable of hitting fast and small targets.
    Also using ECM should increase signature radius by 100% for 1 active module (like MWD) simultaneously reducing signature resolution of ECM ship (like stabs). This would make ECM ships far more vulnerable without reducing ECM effectivenes.

  10. There are already lots of good ideas in this comments. I think the 10 seconds or so cycle of ECM is a bit heavy. It is still all or nothing and a drone boat has a great advantage over others.
    Upgradeing this "FoF" Missiles to anti ECM missiles would also help, but thats only for missile boats everyone else is still screwed. The sensor strength influencing the jam cycle sounds good.
    Reducing targeting slots might help too, and auto targeting modules might find them used more often.

    Maybe even limiting the count of modules fitted but the average falcon with 4 or 5 ECMs simply has no tank. It can operate far out of range so why bother with tank? There for "Behnid Arcani"s version sounds nice. ECM would have a lower optimal and is intended to drive off close range fighters. Effectively countered by long range tacklers like lachesis as they are not effected by short lock range.

  11. So far I like SeaElders suggestion of a specific anti-ECM missile... basically a defender missile that went after ECM'ing targets.

    The problem with the other counters (not adjustments) of ECM is that the counter is compeltely useless if the enemy doesn't have ECM. In fact they're more than useless as they take up valuable slots.

    ECM would always be a good use of slots on the attacking ship, but 90% of the time ECCM just gimps opposing ships as the enemy won't always bring ECM.
    So, the enemy has an advantage if he uses ECM, and if his target fits ECCM all the time to counter it, he STILL has an advantage because he can drop the ECM and his target has ECCM taking up midslots that can't not using for tank, or e-war of his own.

    Therefore, the solution is to change the way ECM works (the whole point of the original post), or to create a counter such as ECM seeking defender missiles, or something else that doesn't gimp your setup if there is no ECM on the field.

  12. I forgot to add: The problem I see with changing ECM to reduce your lockable target count is that in many fights, whilst it's preferable to have multiple targets locked, MOST ships only need 1 target locked to be effective. If they can lock and shoot at the primary then the ECM is a bit worthless.

    This reduces ECM to what it currently is.. it either locks someone out completely or not.

    1. Sensor damps reduces your lock range, not eliminates it. Tracking disruption reduces your tracking. Webs reduce your speed, target painting boosts your sig rad. Generally most EWAR modifies your ships abilities, not completely eliminating them. It takes several EWAR modules to utterly shut down a particular ship feature.

      I concede that single ship/small gang ECM use with the lock reduction concept doesn't make ECM overly useful. I will say that I'm good with that. I feel that ECM in small gangs is overpowered anyway. How many damps do you normally have in small fleets that actually shut a ship down? Why should a single ship be able to shut down one or more ships?

      There are modules and skills already in the game to increase your target locking, which is useful even if ECM isn't used against you. In med/large fleets, having a number of ECM boats is appropriate and will shut down even hardened ships.

      Most folks feel that for ECM the effects are not a smooth gradient but on/off. This proposal adds that gradient. perhaps make it so the 1st ECM module removes 4 locks, the 2nd removes 3, etc. A 10 ship locking logi ship would need then 4 ECM modules to render it completely useless. (Obviously EWAR ships would get bonuses to the above, perhaps one more 1 lock per module, or something).

      A ship that could only target 4 ships would be in trouble from the start, in the above, so perhaps 4 locks with 1 module is a bit harsh.

  13. Always the same old anti-ECM tune. It's fine, if not underpowered due to the ECM ship nerf history. It's part of what keeps Eve from being an arcade knuckledragging gank and tank game. Guess support ship pilots should unite and whine about overpowered turrets and launchers.

    1. lol, so speaketh the Failcon pilot.

    2. ECM and underpowered in the same sentence? Bro, what are you smoking and where can I get some?

      The problem with ECM is that there is that a falcon can drop all 6 of its jammers on a SINGLE target, guaranteeing that its target is jammed out 99.99% of the time. I was flying a Cyclone a few days ago and jumped into a small gatecamp. Nothing I couldn't handle, Caracal, Iskhur, thrasher, few other frigs. Oh, and a falcon. As soon as I saw the falcon I made a run for it. Know why? Because no solo ship can beat a FRIGATE if it has a Falcon flying with it. I survived, but only because their anemic DPS couldn't kill me before my friends 3j over came and chased off the Falcon, which had me jammed for 3 straight minutes, until it burned off and cloaked.

  14. It's an interesting idea, and I understand it's just meant to be a launchpad for discussion, but I don't think module-specific ECM would be the way to go. We've basically got these things already, in many cases. For instance, tracking disrupters would be similar to ECM for turrets, neutralizers/nosferatur would be similar to ECM for hardeners, warp scramblers would be similar to ECM for microwarpdrives.

    I'm afraid I can't think of anything interesting to do with electronic counter measures (trying to think of something that fits the literal description of that phrase), but if I was forced to offer only one suggestion, it would be along the same vein as what you've stated: stop making it an all-or-nothing module, where a ship can still function defensively or offensively, only to a limited capacity.

    1. Actually, one idea I just had was this: an ECM ship could target two ships (one friend, one enemy or two enemies) ship, creating sort of an 'electronic countermeasure storm' between the two ships. If ship A tries to activate any offensive or defensive modules that would effect ship B, it would have a very high chance, or a 100% chance to fail.

  15. Just make Ecm break locks but not prevent you from relocking right away, it would still be annoying but would still give the target a chance, and It would kind of scale with the size of ships too, frigs would be able to relock fast where bc's and bs's would take a while to regain a lock.

    Also "a once proud corporations demise"
    You lost, get over it, The Tuskers don't seem to be dying in any way shape or form, at least not from what I can tell.

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  16. My noob opinion: Maybe ECM could work like CC effects in WoW? The first application lasts X seconds, the second cycle lasts X/2, the next cycle X/4 until it doesn't work at all. The timer is reset when you aren't ECMed for a period of time (60 seconds or something.) This way an ECM boat in a gang would have to switch targets to keep applying the maximum amount of ECM.

  17. Excellent comments as usual.

    My apologies for not joining in the debate, Google decided yesterday that I was unworthy of multiple on-line identities and made it virtually impossible to get on my own blog or comment, etc.

    Seems to have settled down today.

  18. a sensor battle and should remain as such imho. Instead of using a weapon however, why not expand the EW environment thought hacking ships systems and the use of decoys? Hacking a ships systems would be a high end skill and result in the disruption effects that you describe. The training would be similar to how we train for boosting. Armor Hacking would affect reppers and hardeners, while skirmish would do the same thing for shield, Information hacking would reduce the effectiveness of mid slots and targeting, etc. The hacking module would be a high slot, just like the boosting modules.

    Decoys would also be an option and would show up on the UI of the target ship. To prevent all players from seeing the decoys [and overloading the UI] it would be visible to war targets only. The only problem I see here is that alts not at war with the guy using the decoys would be able to see the real target and pass it along. Another option in this case would be to make the decoy effect apply to players that are all in the same Fleet. Decoys would be fired using a high slot similar to a probe launcher and the number used would depend on skill. The only way to determine the difference between a decoy and a real target would be to actually see who is firing and not. Decoys would not act the same way as an on grid player for obvious reasons.

    The important things here are to keep balance and not overload the server due to the huge number of targets popping up.

    Other skills that could be developed:

    ECM Decoys - # of decoys on usable at any given moment
    Anti-decoy skill - Reduces the effect Decoys have on ship sensors [declutter?]
    ECM Decoy Effect - Increases the effect of decoys vs a specific sensor type

    Decoys would be racial and multispectral and come in T1 and T2 types. They could be programmed to mimic a type of ship [depending on skill] and would time out

    I could go on for a while here but I think you get my point.