Monday, 12 August 2013

Do Black Holes really suck?

It seems that a recent CSM meeting must have been rather productive as far as a tick list of issues being worked on which are of concern to wormhole dwellers. Not only are we being asked what is wrong with wormhole space, we are being asked for ideas on how to fix Black Holes.

To really address this question, firstly you must understand the politics of w-space. The big alliances, with the vocal forum alts and the voting power to elect CSm Members including Chitsa Jason, inhabit C5 and C6 space. Well, now that TALUN is no more, this is the case, because TALUN used to inhabit all classes of wormhole space. Now it's the big boys and the scrubs in low-ends.

The big boys, with their 3 day farmable C5 escalations (assuming you don't blap all the Sleepers so the anomaly stays for its 72 hours) make a king's ransom off blue poo. The tradeoff for this is that some C5's and C6's are Black Hole systems. Given the majority of C5 and C6 space connects to C5 and C6 space, the effects of the various oddball systems are the most pronounced and most severe.

Given there's a limited number of C5 and C6 systems, and it is "mostly" inhabited (or at least expunged regularly of campers or itinerants by people who expel small corps nd alliances with dreads for shits and/or giggles), the fact that Black Hole effects at C5 or C6 severity are a nett penalty is of course a concern.

However, this is a bias in the debate; it is true that if you are running an armour gang (as is de rigeur) and you jump willy-nilly into a Pulsar, the locals will have an advantage. The same holds for low-end w-space Black Holes, up to C4 intensity. If a resident corp wants to defend their turf in C1 through C4 Black Holes, they can gain an edge against interlopers by refitting their ships and adjusting their tactics and gang compositions.

The bias also comes from the inability of the larger wormhole alliances to move in to Black Hole C5/6's and exploit the effects as they do in every other of the oddball Effect systems to make shitloads more ISK a shitload easier. Magnetar? Alpha Nags. Wolf-Rayet? Archons, Thanny and Moros escalation (or even this). Pulsar? Chimera of Winzors. Cats? LOL-RRchons. Red Giant? Insta-ISK smartbombing. Etcetera. C6 Black Hole? No chance.

The problem, as I have said, is that at the magnitude of the penalties and the only real nett benefit being speed, this doesn't facilitate farming. it also, at C5/6 levels, hinders PVP.

lets make no bones about this. I lived in a C4 Black Hole for 18 months. We fought more times than the killboard would suggest; we broke off using damps, or just warped away when, for example, a Cynabal hit orbit and shot out of point range. We had our ships refit, we had our method of farming down, we made a fuckload of ISK and came to know the dangers, the penalties, and benefits of Black Hole life. We turned the penalty to a benefit by designing fits, working at the problem and considering the holistic approach to combat. it helped that we had three EFT warrior and theory-crafting wizards at the time.

It can be done. Up to C4. At C5 and C6 levels, the tables turn. Yes, you can fight, but there's no benefit respeccing to deal with the lock range, weapon range and inertia penalties, compared to just flying a convetional fit and dealing with it like your enemies.

For example, a powerful ship is the dual-web armour Loki. You'll fit it with an AB and sig tank. In a C5 Black Hole you will get to around 2km/s; lock range will be just a bit more than web range and well, well beyond weapon range. Your whole combat starts with range control, getting the enemy off the hole, then circling in to actually attain a lock, get the webs on, and circle in to start ripping him a new one. Problem is, to gain an advantage with almost no falloff and an optimal of fuck all, you really need to be dangerously close. it's balls to the wall combat.

Alternatively, you do what we used to; snipe. Your average Naga will have a 60-90km optimal and decent lock range that won't be cut to much below this. Add an Arazu to damp off the enemy's lock range even more than it normally is, and you're set. Aside from the Loki going in for hero tackle, you are fine.

The problem is, no one wants to fight like this, nor can you realistically do so in Black Holes on the average day. For wormhole brawls and ganks, it's balls rubbing brawling in C5's. Fast tackle and frigs begin to really feel the lock range and drone control range issues, logi gets forced in to neut range.

The debate raging right now on EVE-O is framed around changing things. My opinions stand; there's more penalties than benefits. But as someone else said - it doesn't need to be all candy to be interesting.

The debate about the boost to local reps is rubbing up against Pulsar and Wolf-Rayet C5 and C6's. The same could be said of most of the proposed changes floated by others on the Black Hole thread; they are all way, way more exploitable than people seem willing to admit. Any bonus put in to the Black Hole redesign will need to be fully gamed on SiSi before being let loose on TQ because what's on TQ is and has been horribly exploited before (right, AHARM?) and is being right now.

Thus, i'd rather see the whole weapon range penalty removed and the inbuilt damp effect and speed kept. No point having long range missiles and kiting forever if you can't point at range, let alone lock at range. Sure, it'll be Arazu's and Lachesis all the way down, but you just SeBo that shit off.

Otherwise, I fear, if the big alliances get their way, Black Holes will become valuable farmvilles just like C5 and C6 Pulsar, Wolf Rayet and Cataclysmic wormholes.

I await developments.

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