Down With Hangar Queens

March 25, 2013
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So you may have heard by now that the pirate noobships people found on the test server were given away to PAX attendees; a CCP employee has confirmed on Reddit that the vessels will not be exclusive to PAX, but that they will still be limited, special edition ships, and not given out for docking a pod in pirate-owned stations as some had speculated.

Show of hands – how many of you will actually undock in them, rather than stick them in the back of your hangar with your Zephyr, Primae, and Echelon to collect spacedust?

That's what I thought.

Limited-availability, special edition ships are fine, as far as they go, but what's the point of having a ship if you never fly it because it can't be replaced? When I was first starting out, I stumbled across the listing for the Gold Magnate in the market, and for a brief time had an ambition to somehow find and acquire one, until I did more reading and discovered that they had all been destroyed. Likewise, how many other surviving rare ships are in the hands of collectors, locked away in their hangars, never to see the starlight again, and just as lost to the rest of the game as if they had been destroyed by enemy action?

Of course, there are exceptions to this. The tournament prize ships seem somewhat exempt from this fate, being just numerous enough and just powerful enough that you will very occasionally see them actually being flown, and the re-skinned scanning frigates handed out this past winter are very numerous, and share the same game stats as the vanilla versions, so they're equally useful even if they aren't actually better.

The pirate noobships are, it's true, slightly better than their empire counterparts, and it's also true we don't know how widely spread they'll actually end up – they may end up as widely spread as the scanning frigates, which wouldn't be so bad. But they're still noobships; there's even less reason to fly them than the scanning frigs, since they're so easily outgrown, even with their special pirate faction-themed bonus sets.

That's really the heart of my objection to the way special edition ships are handled so far. Nearly all of them are doomed from the start to be nothing more than hangar queens and comedy killmails, as they generally combine near uselessness with exorbitant replacement costs. The Zephyr and the Echelon are particularly bad; each has only a single slot, and each can fit only a single unique module in that slot. What good is a ship that Sleepers won't attack if the only thing it does is launch core scanner probes (and no better than any ship with a utility high, at that), leaving it without a reason to ever be anywhere near Sleepers in the first place? What good is a ship that has a codebreaker with a 10km reach if you can't tank it or arm it against even the wimpiest of highsec exploration rats? Instead of strengths, they have gimmicks. Instead of engaging with player creativity by allowing the possibility unorthodox fits and uses, they stifle it.

To CCP's credit, they do seem at least to be moving away from ships that are pure gimmick: the re-skinned scanning frigs, the pirate noobships, and the Gnosis have bonuses and slots and fitting space to work with. It might be nice to go back and change some of the old ones, though – give them a new lease on life.

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