I do not know why and I do not care why Assigned fighters from a safe spot is called skynet. All I do care about is how overpowered the mechanic of assigned fighters is currently. Let's go back in time and see why this has become a problem.
This dev blog was released http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/giving-drones-an-assist/ around the time that the Kronos patch was released.
These few lines changed fighters from worthless into usable and borderline overpowered mode. Usage of drone modules on a carrier usually comes with a weakness as they take up important tank slots making your carrier very vulnerable on grid if you want to really max your drones. This is where skynet comes. Using the assign fighters mechanic a carrier is able to sit on the edge of a force field or even at a pos with the shields down ready to put them up if you enter the danger zone. This usage provides extreme power at little to 0 risk.
Lets go into a bit about the drone assign mechanic. Using max number of drone control unit modules in your highslot allows each carrier or super carrier to field max 15 fighters. Assigning fighters replace your drones with the fighters from the carrier and lets you use them as your normal drones. Fighters are able to follow ship in warp and will warp from your carrier to the guy you are assigning to. You can have a max of 5 fighters assigned per pilot (Guardian Vexors and carriers/supers can have more). This means that you need a total of 3 guys to use the full power of assigned fighters.
A interesting bug at the moment is the fact that fighters will not aggro the guy using them. The carrier who assigns the drones is the one who gets aggression. Using this allow for some pretty good gate camps using bubbles to catch people while you kill stuff with fighters jumping out in case of any danger.
The warp drive on fighters is actually not really a good thing if you want to max your damage output (or do any damage at all). One of the ways to defeat fighters is to try and trap them in a long warp where they are useless. Cycling pings when the fighters are approaching you or even yellow box you is also a way to defeat them. Killing them is technically possible as they are actually not very cheap. A single Thanatos can carry 20 fighters and a Nyx can carry 35 fighters. You have to watch out here though because they are a really dangerous weapon system and a single mistake could mean that your ship is volleyed.
Most assigned fighter fits run 5 drone control units in the highslots allowing the max number of drones. The lowslots are usually reserved for 3-4 drone damage amplifiers. a damage control and/or some omnidirectional tracking enhancers for extra tracking and range. The mid slots are usually a combo of omnidirectional tracking links, drone navigation computers and sometimes a prop mod.
The first three of these are fairly simple they provide more damage. More Speed. More tracking and both optimal and falloff.
The last module, the Omnidirectional tracking link. This module is active compared to the others that are passive and it uses scripts to buff either the tracking or range by 100% while removing the one you don't script. This is mostly used with tracking scripts with skynet fits since they don't really need links. A single omni provides 30% tracking to all fighters with the right script in.
This is the skynet thanatos we are going to use in our example for how much these modules do for our fighters and how strong they become using all of these.
As you can see all the fighters do the same dps per 5 drones. Whats different is the volley, speed, tracking and damage profile. Tracking is what really stands out here. These fighters will track frigs easily and will easily remove entire fleets especially if your assigning ship has some webs and painters. Another thing that's really overpowered with these is the speed. This is not even the maximum speed these are able to reach. By changing the drone nav comps you can get Einherjis to almost hit 7k m/s.
It's worth noting that the dps and volley number is per ship you assign to. A single carrier can provide fighters to 3 players increasing the dps on Einherjis to 3334 with a 20k volley for example.
Now lets touch a subject I haven't talked about yet. Supercarriers assigning drones. These massive ships have a insane price tag with them but they have ewar immunity allowing them to easily mwd into a pos shield if you are sitting on the edge of it. Supercarriers have another type of fighter called Fighter Bomber. These are different from fighters in that they shoot missiles that use the missile damage formula instead of the damage formula. While Fighter bombers benefit from drone damage modules like any other drone. They get nothing from Omni directionals and this means that they will never be as great as normal fighters for killing smaller stuff. Fortunately for us supers can use Fighters as well and they can pack way more of them and they get a nice 100% bonus to damage. 15 super Templars will be able to dish out 6668 dps with 40k volleys for example and that's using t2 drone damage amps.
When you see fighters in space there is no way of knowing if they are super carrier or normal carrier fighters unless you manage to get a dscan and even then it's not certain. The difference between getting one shotted from a skynet Nyx and taking no damage from a ratting Thanatos is pretty big and not a gamble you want to take.
|Tackling a ratting Thanatos only to find out the hard way that he has Nyx fighters|
In order to fully understand how broken this is and to come up with good ways to fix it, I had to try it out. I had to join the dark side and learn more. My alliance mates have a couple of carriers setup in a lowsec system and we all got into fast tackle and Hyenas in order to hold our targets down. The results were although hilarious obviously broken.
This is just one of many similar battle reports where entire fleets and people passing by got removed by 10k dps and 60k volleys. It felt really unfair because we had such a extreme power at a place where it was 100% safe.
I think that Skynet as a mechanic has to go. It provides a unfair advantage at no risk at all. Such a power should be associated with a lot of risk. A quick and simple fix that would help would be to remove the warp drives from fighters entirely while keeping the assign mechanic. This way you won't be able to project damage from another grid and it's also a buff since trapping fighters in long warp will no longer be a thing. There will be some tears from capital pilots and people using assigned fighters to rat with but all I can say is fuck em. I don't want to keep a mechanic that's not counter able other then not fighting and ruins the fun in pvp with Nyx alpha strikes from 30 au away. Besides it's not like they weren't able to rat before the fighter buff.