My posting schedule is a lot like my desk .. messy as all hell .. whatever floats to the top gets posted. But I've long been promising to do some more detailed writing on booster effects. With Eve being down for the installation of Quantum Rise, its the perfect time.
The first booster I'm tackling is X-Instinct. Its timely because its about to change drastically under the new patch. This booster used to be for those nano-heads out there offering boosts to speed.
But no more! With Quantum Rise, X-Instinct will now offer a boost to signature radius .. ahem, that's a decrease to sig radius .. I can already hear the huh's out there. That's right, there's nothing like drugs and math.
So what's sig radius and why should you care? I'll take the easy question first. You should care a lot. Flying with a lower sig radius will make you harder to target, track, and you'll take less damage. I really tried to write out all the formulas for this stuff. If you're into radians and Pi, you're gonna love this. But once I awoke from the coma, I decided just to give you the link. EveWiki has a great article on this stuff. What I'm gonna try to do is add some practical information to the mathematical morass.
What's all this mean? We all know that a lower sig radius is better. But how low is low? When is it really gonna make a difference? I'll give a few examples since no one could do an exhaustive list since there are so many variables involved, from skill levels, ammo type, implants, rigs, not to mention a legion of e-war variables.
Let's assume a slaver Amarrian in a Harbinger happens upon a Minmatar Stabber. Let's also assume that the crafty Minmatar pilot has ingested some standard x-instinct. The Harbringer has a scan resolution of 210, while its medium lasers have a signature resolution of 125 (tech 1, tech 2, beam, pulse doesn't matter ... ALL turrets of the same type and size have identical sig resolutions.) The Stabber without the x-instinct has a sig radius of 105, but with the 10% bonus offered by the x-instinct, its sig radius is effectively 94.5.
With these numbers we can work out a few things. First how long does it take the evil, slaver Amarrian to lock the heroic freedom-fighter? Without the booster, it would take a shade over 45 seconds to get a lock. With the booster, it takes 50 seconds. Ok, nothing incredible here but 5 seconds can make or break a battle. And with Improved and Strong versions of X-Instinct, it gets even better - 53 seconds with Improved and 56 seconds for Strong.
I'm gonna leave out a complicted turret tracking example. Tracking really comes into play with ships of greatly different sizes. Turrets differ widely on tracking speed, and ship speed plays a large part too.
But where sig radius becomes vital is in damage. If the sig radius of a target is lower than the sig resolution of the weapon shooting at it, the target will take only a percentage of the maxamium potential damage from that weapon. In our example, the brave Matari pilot already has some edge, flying the sleek Stabber with a low sig radius. If he had not taken the booster, he would take 70.5% of the maximum damage the evil slaver's lasers could dish out. But with the standard x-instinct booster, he is exposed to only 57% of that damage. Better than a 10% reduction in damage. If we up the strength of the booster we get better and better results. Improved X-Instinct gives a 15% reduction in sig radius meaning that the damage is reduced to 51% of total. And if our brave freedom fighter took Strong with its 20% reduction, he is exposed to only 45% of maximum damage. That's a 25% improvement over no boosters at all!
Now the question of whether its worth it is all up to you. X-Instinct prices range from as low as 2-3 million for Synth, 6-8 million for Standard, 15 million for Improved, and 45-50 million for Strong. That's a fortune for some pilots and pocket change to others. Aside from price, boosters can also free up important slots. There are lots of e-war options for reducing your opponents tracking speed, locking speed, etc. But with a booster, you don't have to take up any precious slots, train up e-war skills, or manage cap.
Eve is all about options ... the new improved X-Instinct offers some interesting ones.