Okay, so here's my crack at the Redesigning the Eagle Contest as sponsored by Kirith Kodachi. The basic premise is here below:
"The goal is to produce a description of how you would change the Eagle (and/or all of the Heavy Assault Cruiser class) to make it viable in the new Crucible age AS WELL AS one or more images of a hull redesign for the Moa/Eagle/Gila/Onyx ships very much like how the Scoprion and Maller have been completely redone.."
Here are my thoughts. Right now, clearly the Eagle is horrendous. Currently, it has a double bonus for range, a bonus for damage, and a bonus for shield tanking. It is still in a pretty bad state right now though. Even with the hybrid boost, the Eagle is not on par with other HACs. I used PyFA to get a look at its current state post-buff. Its currently possible to get a rack of 250mm rails and a pretty respectable shield tank. With Antimatter loaded, it hits 40.5 + 15 for 310 DPS and with the long range T2 ammo, Spike, it goes 130 + 15 for 207 DPS.
The numbers are meaningless without some comparison though. Here's the Muninn: 29.2 + 35.9 at 347 DPS with EMP and 105 + 35.9 at 232 DPS with T2 Tremor. And a sniper-fit Zealot: 29.2 + 16.4 at 436 DPS with Multifrequency and 105 + 16.4 at 290 DPS with Aurora.
Missing your undergrad calc class yet? The Eagle wins in range, but not DPS. Its also the slowest by about 300 m/s. Ouch. So it has range, but it can't maintain it? Seems like a pretty big issue.
So let's look at the state of the union then. The Eagle is the worst in its role as a sniper HAC, excelling only in range, which it can't maintain. Now we have Tier 3 BC's, and they can hit from farther range, run faster, and hit harder. Oh, and by the way, they're about a third of the cost and can be fully insured. Are you sold on the Eagle yet?
Rixx Javix wrote a little while ago about how a few HACs are "dead" after the release of Tier 3 BC's and a few other causes. For the most part, I think he's right to some extent. Especially on a cost/benefit scale, there are a lot of other options out there that fulfill the role that HACs used to have. The key is making HACs different and relevant. I don't think the Vaga has been outdone yet due to its speed. The Deimos is great close range brawler that might still be viable, and the Ishtar is certainly still a unique ship in that its a versatile drone boat. This is what the Eagle needs. It needs a role that no other ship in the game has right now.
Here's the proposal. Its not a higher DPS sniper. We've already got the Naga and the rest of the crew to do that, and the current mechanics with on grid probing/warp-to's makes pure snipers a tough place to be anyway. I'm also not suggesting a blaster Eagle. It will always be outpaced by the Deimos, among other ships.
My thought is its gotta be different. My thought is a torpedo Eagle. The only viable torp ships right now are bombers, the Phoon, and the Golem (pretty much PVE only). Add the Eagle to this list by bonusing it similar to bombers right now.
Caldari Cruiser Bonus:
20% bonus to torpedo velocity and flight time per level
5% bonus to shield resistances per level
Heavy Assault Ship Skill Bonus:
15% bonus to torpedo damage per level
5% bonus to target painter effectiveness per level
The key to this ship, as I see it, is giving it a distinct role that gives this Heavy Assault Cruiser strong capabilities without making more ships obsolete. In this torp Eagle, I think we've achieved that. Let's keep the same slot layout as the current Eagle. Change all the turret hardpoints to missile bays, giving the Torpedo appropriate grid for Siege Missile Launcher II's. This gives the Eagle significantly more damage than Stealth Bombers can do, and yet it still has a solid tank. It must give up one of these slots for a TP if one so chooses, or you could pair up with a Huginn. Note, the bonus is less than the Huginn, giving the Minmatar Recon Ship a decided advantage in the EWAR field. I'm thinking something along the lines of the following:
Siege Missile Launcher II (x5)
Small Energy Neutralizer
Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon Microwarpdrive
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Ballistic Control Unit II (x3)
Power Diagnostic Unit II
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I (x2)
This ship would have decided advantages and disadvantages. On the pro side, it should be able to put out quite a bit of DPS at an impressive range. It would not be up to the level of snipers, but with Javelin torpedoes, it could get out pretty far (Bombers loaded with Javelin already get ~75km without rig additions). This ship could be great for a POS bash (woohoo just what everyone wanted!). On the downside, it could be a bit susceptible to smaller ships that can signature tank the torpedoes. Target Painters will be essential for this ship to do well in fights below its weight class.
Overall its an interesting, unconventional way to look the Eagle. Caldari ships do not (and in my opinion, should not) exceed Gallente ships in Blaster technology. With the Naga, other Tier 3 BC's, and current probing mechanics, dedicated sniper platforms are a tough sell as well. My proposed changes give the Eagle an interesting ability to strike hard at a variety of ranges so long as its target is large or well painted. It provides a ship role that New Eden does not have yet today.
[Note: I'm trying to work out a new design for the Eagle, but my drawing skills are horrendous. I'll try to get something worked out. If not, I'll hit up the CAD lab when I get back to school :) ]