Driving today, I listened to Sard Caids PodCast, as the Head of A Band Apart and Stay Frosty, Rixx Javix, was a guest. He was invited there to discuss, along with Sard Caid and Bocci Sammich, the Role, Utility, and current usage of Combat Recons. If you want to have a good listen, it's well worth the hour. It only aired last night-it's on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySzbJ0sNOgk It is well worth the hour. In listening, they kicked around a few ideas, including talking about reducing the effectiveness of D-Scan. This gave me two main ideas.
First idea? On the Podcast, they talked about D-Scan being reduced to the point of only saying 'Frigate, Cruiser, Battleship' etc.-the basic, general classification. While I actually agree that D-Scan is far too powerful-I can make a solid determination on the likely odds of my success in a fight before I even Warp to them-I think that blunting them to the point of only doing basic ship classes is a bad idea. T1 Frigates, and T1 hulls in general, likely won't be useful at all in solo or small gang combat if this happens, as you have to assume that 'Frigate' you see on scan is an Assault Frigate or Electronic Attack Frigate etc., and the Cruiser you see on scan to be a HAC or HIC or somesuch. People will become even more risk adverse than they already are, as many people won't be able to afford to 'upship' all of the time like that. So what do I propose?
Make D-Scan comparable to the Market. What I mean by this is, for example, Frigates. Have D-Scan, by default, show 'Standard Frigates, Pirate Frigates, Faction Frigates, Assault Frigates, Electronic Attack Frigates, CovOps, Interceptors and Expedition Frigates'. Follow this for all ship types, Cruiser, Battleship etc. This makes it so D-Scan is no longer nearly as powerful of a tool, but it DOES give people a good general idea of what is in the system. So how do Combat Recons figure in? Simple.
Give them an ACTIVE module that only they can fit, probably in an existing High, that makes their ships D-Scan act just like it currently does. This gives them a definite utility not just in solo and small gang, but larger fleets as well. In addition to taking a slot and having Cap Usage etc. however, while active it NEGATES A COMBAT RECONS D-SCAN IMMUNITY. It shows up on D-Scan as exactly what it is. Sure it lets that pilot see more specific info on ships in system, but it shows itself so everyone can see it as well. See it as an active sonar ping. It gets new and valuable information to you, but it also blows your cover. Maybe give it a 60 second cycle time during which the ship cannot warp off. Combat Probes anyone? This gives it both good utility as well as a solid, hard-wired downside from what otherwise would be a huge boost to itself and any fleet it might be in, as long as the potential targets are paying attention of course.
The second idea is also valid, in my opinion. It however is much more limiting. It would probably only make any difference in Null and WH Space. In WH Space it would radically change things, which is why though valid, I am not a fan of it. I don't live in WH Space, but whenever I talk about 'balance' issues, I try to keep in mind all perspectives-it's not just my game after all, it's all of ours.
The idea? Give Combat Recons a module that only it can fit. alongside the other module it they'd like, that shows all cloaked ships in the system. Not in a manner which allows it to probe it down, or see on D-Scan specifically where it is, just to show them for what they are-they can come up as 'Cloaked Ship' or whatnot. Again, not a huge fan of this due to the massive changes it would bring to WHs, but it seems Fozzie has plans for allowing something similar in the future anyhow. Again this module would have the same effect as above, or perhaps have something additional. Yes, a ship would be able to fit both, but no new slots means you'd have to sacrifice something as well.
My favored option in Option #1. It makes the ship useful in more situations, helps change D-Scan so it's not all-powerful but is still a great tool, and helps ensure that they don't become all-powerful while still giving them an absolutely specific potential role.
What are your thoughts? Let me know what you think!