The blog banter itself was a reaction to CCP's suggestion about adding a new class of ship to the game, a flagship, which would be highly durable and serve the purpose of allowing a pilot to stay on grid for a significant period of time, specifically to counter headshotting by the enemy fleet.
Suffice to say, this provoked a bit of discussion.
One reader in particular was skeptical about having a special ship class have permanent effects tied to it, and suggested an effect that would buff the FC's ship instead:
I'd have it be a more nebulous mechanic born out of the Fleet window which applies an effect much like a Links but to only one pilot. The real trouble is bracketing this effect to only occur in 'real' fights where headshotting is an issue.This line of thinking tied in so perfectly with a comment my wife made that I wanted to explore it a bit further.
Eve is a highly philosophical game, and the way players interact reveals a lot about humanity. From time to time, my conversations about Eve with my wife will elevate beyond the "so this is what happened" variety into the "ain't humanity funny?" variety. I was talking with her about the idea of flagships, and she came out in favor of CCP taking some steps to keep FCs on the field for longer, much for the same reasons I do.
Then, she made a comparison to bodyguard units throughout history that really got me thinking about a workable mechanic change. Sure, she glazed over as I started rattling off some possible applications, but she had put the idea in my head nonetheless.
In the past, generals who took the field started out fighting with their soldiers. "Commanding from the front", as it were. Caesar, Alexander, and Hannibal all did it to varying degrees. But one of the side effects of this tendency was that generals tended to die in battle quite often. Hannibal and Caesar didn't, but Alexander and Richard the Lionheart succumbed to wounds, and several of the generals who opposed Hannibal suffered that fate too.
Losing a general was a devastating morale blow to an army during a battle, and when that general also happened to be the mastermind, figurehead, or head-of-state behind the nation fielding that army, the consequences could be catastrophic. Over time, generals began to realize that the benefit of fighting at the front didn't make up for the consequences of dying, and they moved to the rear to oversee the battle from a better vantage point.
With this change came the advent of the bodyguard unit, which usually consisted of a cavalry unit that would protect the general in case of a breach in the line of battle, and would occasionally sally forth and keep the general alive during those times when he did charge into battle. In the Battle of Bosworth, for instance, Richard III and his bodyguard charged Henry Tudor and his bodyguard in an attempt to "headshot" the rebel army. It ultimately failed, but despite Richard's loss, it was a success for the concept of the bodyguard unit. It bought time for both Henry and Richard to receive reinforcements; only the decision of Lord Thomas Stanley to join Henry's side secured the victory.
So, it got me thinking... what if we introduced the concept of bodyguards to Eve? Establishing a hull bonus to a flagship clearly has the potential for abuse and unbalancing in solo or small-gang combat, but we can accomplish something similar to a bodyguard unit surrounding a general with modules.
Here's how it'd work. Any fleet member could fit a module that, when activated upon the FC, would provide a small (2%, perhaps?) bonus to either armor or shield HP. For armor tanks, it'd be a low-slot module; for shield tanks, it'd be a mid-slot module. You could potentially even use the same module, and allow it to do different effects depending on where it's fitted (if CCP's capable of coding it that way). So, if it's fitted in a low-slot, it buffs the FC's armor, if mid-slot it buffs shield.
Because it would be fit in a "same tank" slot, fleets would have to make a choice. They could fit the module to assist their FC, but as a result would lose some individual tank in the process, since the assist module would take up a slot otherwise earmarked for local tank. You'd have a trade-off that would limit the application of the module in non-fleet environments. This would also serve to limit the functionality of bodyguard ships, just as bodyguards were limited in battle historically, as they had to stick near the general.
But, that's only one half of the equation. To receive nay benefit from the boosts, the FC would need to fit a special module that completes the equation; without it, no boosts are given at all. For the sake of argument, let's say the module is "always on", and a ship fitting it can't "shut it off" to avoid the downsides.
Those downsides would be a drastic limitation of its offensive capability. Perhaps a 75% reduction in dps from all sources. The goal here would be to limit the functionality to large fleet fights, where headshotting is more common. However, FCs need to have accurate information for things such as lock range, optimal and falloff range, and speed, all of which provide vital intel to the decision-making process and directly influence how the fleet operates.
I can see a number of advantages to this kind of system. First, it scales according to fleet size, but not in an overpowering way. Yes, a larger fleet would provide more benefit to the FC, but the individual fleet members would have a lower tank (from the slot use), which would allow a smaller fleet to successfully score kills against it. Such a system might actually increase kills... just not of the FC.
Undoubtedly, for smaller fleets, an FC would still benefit from using an adjusted fit or a different fit that yields a greater tank, and that's okay. Plus, we do get the trade-offs that make Eve so interesting. I can see the arguments on the forums now about members of a defeated fleet complaining about dying to save the FC!
Surely, it'd need some more fleshing out, but the possibility was intriguing.