Hello Spacefriends! First off, anyone who hasn't listened to this - Rixx's Podcast - needs to go ahead and do so! It's a great listen, plus it talks about the topic of this particular Post.
Ok, back? Great! The following is my idea of how On-Grid links should work.
It's fairly simple, really. I don't think they should be launched items at all. While I understand the idea behind that as not only will Industry be generated, but it applies an expense to their use (being, of course, the same as Warp Bubbles, an expense that any pilot using them must accrue), I still think that it doesn't help the main issue. What's the main issue? Actually making Links STAY in the fight by forcing them to not just be On-Grid, but close to the fight.
While doing a probe-style launcher does pull links On-Grid to a certain extent, it doesn't seem that it will require the Booster Ship to stay close at all times. All it does is make (presumably) the Link Ship show up on a Killmail. How often do we see Interdictors or HICs on KMs where the ship itself wasn't even close (or even really present) for the kill? While the probe idea absolutely helps us down in LowSec in regards to exposing those supposed 'solo' pilots as long they do show up on KMs, does this really matter in the long scope in terms of other playstyles? I don't really think so. Sure, things will have to change a little bit, but it still allows a Booster ship to fire off his link probes, or whatever you want to call them, and then run away to a much safer distance, especially after the massive expansion of Grid Size. With the Command Destroyers, all one has to do is launch boost probes, MJD away, wait until it is close to the probes 'expiration time', MJD back, then rinse and repeat. If you keep doing this cycle with at least a pair of Command Destroyers, and in a Fleet you'll have a few of them I'm sure, you will always have a MJD ready to fire off, and your ships will never really be in much danger as one jumps the Command Destroyers in, and another one jumps them out almost immediately.
A better option, in my opinion, is an AOE (area of affect) type link booster module. This forces a Link Ship to not only be on grid someplace relatively close, but to be in close proximity of the actual fight. This enables more choice. Take more link ships, as they WILL die, or take more actual DPS or Logi ships? It's more of a balance act, and requires not only more direct combat piloting, but more tactical set up as well, not just in terms of what ships to take, but their placement within a fleet as well. We know that AOE modules are easily implemented in-game, as we have Smartbombs that do this same thing, only applying DPS to an adjacent ship and not a boost.
What do you think? Should the New Links be a Probe-style item, where it is fire and forget, and run away if you can or want to? Should it be an AOE module which forces the Link Ships to not only be present on the field, but to stand and fight if they want to actually give boosts? Or is it something different altogether?