As some of you may have noticed, there was a small backend sync yesterday that enabled the display of Combat Roles for all entity types which can currently participate in combat (ships, creatures, droids, and NPCs). The Combat Role for each entity type can be found on the corresponding rules page. Understandably, there have been some questions raised which I will attempt to cover here.
What are Combat Roles?
Combat Roles are pretty much exactly what they sounds like - the role this entity type would most commonly fill during combat. They are generally based on a combination of size (for ships), any special or defining characteristics, and offensive and defensive capability.
Does this mean that I cannot do XYZ with my [ship|creature|droid|NPC] due to its role?
No. Your agency as players remains intact. You are free to do whatever you could before yesterday. Combat Roles are a way to help the AI which drives hostile-owned entities (i.e. bandits) make more logical decisions.
Why is ABC ship listed as [Role A] when it clearly should be [Role B]?
The mapping of entity types to roles is moderately subjective and will be evaluted by developers and admins as stats change and data is gathered. Not all entities are a perfect fit for the available categories and some are placed in a 'closest fit'.
These Roles don't make sense, why don't you just add new Roles to cover [XYZ] niche situation?
There is a fair amount of work that goes on behind the scenes with Combat Roles which will not be detailed publicly. It is not simply a matter of creating a new Role and assigning it. There are no plans to add any new Roles at this time, but this decision is subject to review based on data gathered in the future.
What do Combat Roles mean for me today?
Nothing. They have no effect on the game engine at this time. They will become more relevant when the updated AI is released Soon(tm).