At Eve Vegas CCP Fozzie indicated at a roundtable that they are still working on what their design philosophy for Assault Frigates (AF) will be when that change comes. They are current eclipsed in nearly every respect by the Tech 3 Destroyer class. The versatility of the T3Ds makes them more than a Jack of all trades but a bit of a master of all trades.
So, To fix this I think the AF class needs to go the opposite direction and have a laser sharp design philosophy and be focused on filling their role precisely better than any other ship.
Tank stats and bonuses
I propose that for this redesign we look at some conventions in Eve ship design that may need to be modified. Nearly every, if not every, ship in Eve has a resist profile that follows their racial pattern that is improved by T2 resists. But why does EVERY Ship have resists for their non-racially favored tank type (e.g. armor for Caldari or shield for Gallente)? I suggest that there should be ship types, in this case AF, that might not have any resists to their non-racially favored tank, but in exchange their base resists get 10% improvement on their base stats. So, a hawk would have:
|EM: 5%||TH: 88%||KI: 76.25%||EX: 60%|
|EM: 0%||TH: 0%||KI: 0%||EX: 0%|
|EM: 33%||TH: 33%||KI: 33%||EX: 33%|
This would mean that there would be no viable fittings for an armor tank hawk. Well, there isn’t anyway. But the extra EHP for the shields comes at the cost of a 10% EHP loss at the armor level. For a net gain overall. And it fits with the specialization theme that T2 ships should have.
Another change I would make is that the current MWD signature radius role bonus is a little weak IMO for a frigate class. I would replace it with about a 100% bonus to Afterburner speed role bonus. This would put the speeds that AF could achieve with AB still less than MWD speeds but still fast enough to be a clearly superior choice to a MWD. Though there would still be some niche fits that use MWD.
This has some significant effects on the ship. One of the most obvious to me is that with those speeds and a small increase in EHP (outlined above) this class would be very survivable especially against heavier ships. With it being the fastest AB ships in the game it would make for some very brawl oriented ships that can get on top of something that was slowed down, by interceptors say, and burn them down. They would likely out pace the T3D at holding ground on the field of battle. They would be a strong choice for defensive fleets covering strategic locations in Null and low sec space. They would be a good counter to interceptors, but not perfect, since they would have trouble engaging the inteys. They would be excellent against large numbers of large ships and might even be superior to bombers at killing lone capitals, but, they can be caught and killed.
This would make a fun class and I think would blunt the T3D menace somewhat and make for some interesting uses for a class that has historically been a lot of fun but has fallen on hard times.