For hundreds of years the most dominant army in the world carried a weapon that changed very little. Used from the earliest days of the Roman Empire until very late in it’s decline, the Gladius has to be one of the most deadly weapons in the history of the world. It was versatile, easy to make, simple to use, and light. A tremendous combination that was lethal to the enemies of the empire. The only downside it had was its’ unique set of characteristics that demanded it be used in tightly-packed, close formations emphasizing teamwork for the survival and success of the warriors using it.
So what does this have to do with EvE? Quite a bit actually. Every fleet doctrine has its ups and downs. Some are easy to train into, but require various levels of skill to actually use, and may or may not be effective. Others are highly effective but require ages of training, or ludicrously expensive ships for someone just starting out in heavy PvP. Still others require so many different pieces to be used in a coordinated fashion to work as to be impractical on a day to day basis.
EvE has never had a “Gladius” doctrine, and it probably still won’t. The closest it has had was the ubiquitous “Drakefleet” which combined a low bar to entry with ease of use and cheap ships to make it quite competitive even against fleets that should have been far superior given the basic ships making them up. Now the Drake has been nerfed, and faces still more nerfs in its future, a new fleet doctrine must come together, and one tool in the toolbox that demands a look is the new Tier 1 cruisers. Their varied capabilities and single-purpose bonuses and statistics scream for use and their strength cannot be denied, especially given the literal hordes of players capable of using them. Most players can get 350 to 400 DPS out of a shield thorax. Veterans can easily crank out 600+. These ships are cheap too. Fully fitted and rigged they rarely bump into the price of a Battlecruiser hull.
In my new alliance we’ve had two engagements. One against a nasty little Muninn fleet that we handled very roughly, and another against a TEST “Kitchen Sink” fleet that we simply didn’t have the firepower to break, although we handled it quite roughly. These ships also have another neat feature. They are fun to fly. The Stabber handles like a dream, and there’s no fear in flying it. I’ve had single ticks ratting in null that paid for this ship. Heck I’ve probably scooped loot from single kills that paid for it. You can whelp a fleet and barely lose 200 million. I’ve got pods worth 5 times that. Putting together a defense fleet built around one or the other flavor of cruisers is both cheap, and a hell of a lot more effective than the TEST fleet that we skirmished with on that wormhole. Sure we needed support, the Rapier in particular was invaluable in keeping them off our backs and away from the safety of the Wormhole, but the core component of the fleet could have been any dozen guys in T1 cruisers providing targets and DPS. A coherent mix on the other side could have stonewalled us, especially once they warped in their carriers, but we were able to chisel away at them and easily pop out a few, while they ineffectively failed to use concentrated fire or wormhole mechanics to their advantage.
Any alliance with Sov could easily stock dozens of appropriately fitted T1 cruisers in its hangars, and hand them out like candy at a parade when they have roamers come in to form up defense fleets. And you know what your people are out if they get hotdropped in that fleet? A T1 cruiser, and the alliance is out a couple minutes worth of Tech. On the other hand if you win, your PvP-ers are happy because they got a win, the nullbears are happy because something interesting broke up the monotony and they didn’t even have to risk anything, and the leaders are happy because their space is that much safer.
These fights are fun, these ships are fun, they are easy to use, and surprisingly strong. They let newer players try out roles that were traditionally closed to them (hello new logistics pilots, I love you all to death!) and expose them to the fun of PvP at a fraction of the risk.