Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Balkanisation of nullsec

It was quite predictable - the changes to jump ranges and the addition of jump timers would remove the universe-wide overwatch ability of the big nullsec coalitions. This removal of ultimate retaliatory force via Jabber ping CTA fleets jumping 4 cynos to blap a siege fleet, rep a POS, rep an outpost, blap an enemy POS and be back at the staging base inside of 30 minutes has stifled the business model of pre-Hyperion nullsec.

We are seeing the Nullsec blocs and Nullsec entities (renters and landlords alike) sorted out into two types. First are those who have high-level metagamers and strategic thinkers and wargamers coupled with strong discipline, command structures and internal political cohesion. Second are the alliances who lack this (predominantly renter alliances and the like), or one element of it.

The former responded early - like PL's rental alliance, Brothers of Tangra, hiving off 80-odd systems within a week of Hyperion dropping. This was a response to the impossibility of the threat of PL's annihilatory force being deployed against transgressions into the BOT farm. PL's planners, metagamers and logisticians worked out pretty quickly they were unable, unwilling and unlikely to protect everything, and rather than risk brand damage via an erosion of their demesne by small predatory groups, they carved it off to Shadow and now Shadow suffers death by a thousand papercuts of ultimate humiliation.

Other entities like Northern Associates and their affiliated smaller arse-limpet hangers-on tribute alliances dealt with this a bit differently. Reputedly, NA. (which is of course NCDot finger puppet) told their tribute alliances and hangers-on they were on their own. This has resulted in, for example, Mostly Hammered beginning sov flips, terrorising the weakling, coward shitstains in Cache. You know the people - the guys who dock up or POS up at the drop of a hat, and PVP by linking your lossmails in Local and sending petitions over phrases like "Do you even lift....your balls off your boyfriend's backside?"

It seems that the jump changes are having their desired effect. Sov nullsec is beginning to Balkanise - when renter alliances show signs of weakness like NA - as pragmatic and realpolitik as it is - then this empowers the predators. Shadow is suffering strategic defeat at the hands of perhaps two dozen pirates because they cannot skirmish. They are losing ships, POSs, even perhaps an outpost, to half a dozen guys in Ishtars because they are just terrible pilots who've eked out an existence ratting in giant domains with impenetrable intel channel defences all held in place by instant teleported cap fleet blobbing.

As the Balkanisation continues, the intel channel Skynet coverage will begin to degrade. Whereas now you can jump from a wormhole and everyone in a region, if not three, will see yu reported and pinged in system after system, allowing people to dock their Rattlesnakes or pre-align their carriers to POS, in a few months the granularisation of sovereignty will result in fractured intel. This will favour small gang and small fleet combat, and small entities holding their own space.

This is all a Good Thing for the game, if you play the game for PVP. There's a bit of debate around the need to keep an ecology in nullsec open to keep the nullbears breeding and farming and AFKtaring their Sanctums and Dens. if it gets too hard to live in nullsec, the argument goes, people will QQ and unsub, and go play Elite Dangerous or $tar Citizen$.

This may occur, of course, but I think that the old gif of the EVE learning Curve is a bit misleading if you end up living in sov null as a rentboy shitlord. It's not that hard to go onto Reddit, read about how ishtars and Rattlesnakes are EZMode Ultimate Edition, train your toon for 2 months or 3 months, join a renter corp, and bang out Sanctums and get 12M bounty ticks or more, hours on end. You shortcut the skill, you shortcut the school of hard knocks, and you end up perpetuating a game culture of risk-aversion boring toy-seeking ISK accumulating assfucked uselessness.

How exciting is that, then? Not very. Sure, there's a lot of guys learning right now that they really are unskilled sheep, they are horribly bad PVPers, their corporations are just edifices for ISK skimming tax accumulation, their alliances are tax aggregators which provide no real services or protection, that they are toothless tigers which exist like monolithic ego accumulators for the elite.

Yeah, it would suck to realise the game is being played better by other people, who are kicking your arse and your corp's arse, and alliance's arse because you suck. Maybe the free lunch is over and you have to fight for your space. The thing is - fighting for your space is playing a game. AFK ishtars is not. EVE can lose them in their droves, and be better for it, and hope they stop reading bad Reddit how-to's and learn how-to themselves.

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