The Dinosaur’s Briefcase

EVE launched it’s Kronos update on June 3rd.  Included in that expansion were 3 new pirate ships, from the Mordu’s Legion faction; a minor pirate faction up till now represented among rats and missions, but otherwise paid little attention amidst the parade of Sansha, Blood Raiders, Guristas, Serpentis, and Angels.

First up, the Garmur frigate:

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A very pretty ship indeed.  The hull form and colors tend to remind me of an F-22.  Next, the Orthus cruiser

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The triangular-ish wings in the center remind me a bit of the F-23; the unselected competitor to the F-22.  Finally, the Barghest battleship:

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Uh.. ok… really? I mean, I like it, it’s cool, and all but…  everyone knows what I mean.  The only real debate is, is it a spatula, or a fry pan?  There’s a corp (or alliance?  I forget) out there known as Sniggwaffe, associated with pandemic legion, that has the ticker [WAFFLES].  If they don’t make this thing a doctrine ship…

Next up, several ships had their hulls revised.  First, the Condor/Crow/Raptor hull:

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Very cool indeed; really looks fast and maneuverable now which is the hallmark of the ships that use it.  Next, the Moa/Eagle/Onyx hull:

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Of all the hull redesigns to date (or at least since I started playing in 2011; I wasn’t here when the Scorpion got it’s makeover) this is the one that makes me happiest.  The old Moa hull was so godawful that I simply wouldn’t even consider flying it, and it’s appearance (something like a dinosaur carrying a briefcase) is the reason for the title of this post.  This new hull is a vast improvement; it looks like a cruiser, not just a bunch of thrown-together pieces of ship that was what passed for “utilitarian” Caldari design before.

Finally, the new Typhoon hull:

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The old Typhoon was not a hull I disliked, but this one is definitely more fun and looks more like a battleship.  Battleships should be big, powerful, and tough-looking; something most of the other battleship hulls achieve.  The Barghest conveys that, despite its unmistakably culinary resemblance.  The Nestor conveys that despite it not being entirely clear which end is the front.  The Typhoon didn’t so much; it looked like a deathtrap of thrown-together metal.  This retains the minmatar “feel” of rusty and perhaps a little behind, but makes it feel more like someone actually built a ship instead of a giant garbage can.  More importantly, it makes the ship look faster, and speed is a Minmatar “thing”.  Battleships aren’t fast, but at least it looks fast.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the trend of ship hull redesigns and the new ships that have been introduced.  Since I started playing, new ships have included the four attack battle cruisers (all of which I like), the Sisters of EVE ships (all of which I like, especially the Stratios) and now Mordu’s Legion.  It seems the older EVE gets, the better the ship models get.

I don’t necessarily dislike asymmetrical ships.  I like the Catalyst hull, and the Thorax hull, but in both cases the asymetry looks like it serves a purpose.  Ships that are mostly symmetrical but have minor pieces that aren’t like the Coercer, Megathron, or Machariel are reminiscent of real-life ships, vehicles, and aircraft where there are minor differences from left to right.

People often justify the more inexplicably asymmetrical designs by pointing out that in space, things don’t need to be aerodynamic.  That’s true, but symmetrical designs are easier to balance around engine thrust, and more easily cover areas around them with weapons.  Internal arrangements of ships are more complicated when the ships aren’t symmetrical.  Bits hanging way off the main hull by some thin strut or strand look like they’d get blown right off by a solid hit.

The Moa was a terrible offender in this regard.  It had that godawful cockpit coming off an indescribable hull, plus the briefcase-thing on one side.  Some people argued it looked utilitarian, but it really didn’t; it look as if the designer had gone out of their way to make it as awkward, unstable, impractical, and ugly as they possibly could.

In real life, ships ARE aysmmetrical when they need to be. The most obvious example is the aircraft carrier.  The angled deck permits landings at the same time the bow is being used for takeoffs.  The island is placed opposite the angled deck to keep it out of the way.  However, asymmetry hasn’t always been a good idea even WITH a purpose.  The first British Dreadnought battleships had wing turrets to permit more gun power forward and aft.  This prevented a full broadside, since at least 1 turret would always be masked by the hull.  After building 3 classes of battleship like this, the British tried building one with the wing turrets offset from each other so that (in theory) they could fire cross-deck to achieve a full broadside.

In practice, this not only was hazardous to the ship itself from the blast of the guns over its own deck, but the arc of fire for either wing turret firing to the opposite side of the ship was so small as to be nearly useless.  It also complicated the internal arrangements of the ship to a significant degree.  The Neptune and Colossus class ships were built in this fashion, before its impracticality was accepted, and it was not repeated in the Orion-class, which also eliminated the wing turrets, adopting superfiring centerline turrets, as the U.S. Navy had with its first dreadnoughts in the South Carolina and Michigan.

Some people have complained that the new ships and new hulls starting with the Sisters of EVE ships don’t look “EVE”, and I do see what they mean, but I’m not sure that’s bad.  Some of the EVE hulls have simply been better than others, and in view of the need to redesign some of the worst models, departing a bit from EVE tradition isn’t a bad thing at all.  When it comes down to it, we all want to fly cool ships, and these new models definitely hit the mark.

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