Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Factiongty Warchanics

First, the Dev Blog behind this, and a reasonable TL;DR run-down from The Mittani.

The analysis?

Entosis Links
Besides the obvious soon-to-be released capability to 'hack' offline POSs which this opens up the possibilities of (if the Circadian Sleepers don't figure out, from observing sieges and attacking POSs, how to just clean up POS trash) this is a dull and not at all enthralling introduction of a new module to be deployed on alts and shitty noob toons who will be deployed with sov blobs. Because, let's be honest, no one likes being the cyno bitch, so we use cyno alts. No one likes being the link bitch, so we use link alts. Ergo, we will need to train Entosis Alts, or train our cyno alts to also be entosis alts so that when we go to ninja the sov we can light a cyno and call in the actual fleet.

The best part, really, is that playing hide the sausage with Entosis Links will replace structure grinds of sov modules. The old saying "play the game not the man" is reversed here.

Note that you can have multiple links cycling on the one system structure, at this point, from all sides. So you don't need one dedicated Entosis Link alt - bring a bunch, for redundancy's sakes. Similarly, the T2 Entosis link will have an activation proximity of 250km. This is as opposed to the T1 link, which will have a proximity of 25km so that BRAVE and other scrubby scrubs in Atrons get victimised.

This is good news for 10MN MWD Confessor sov snipers who, with proper links, will be able to kite at 200km with a T2 Entosis Link, capping sov in utter impunity. Don't anyone mention this, because we don't want gay kite fag mechanics to bleed from FW to Sov Warfare, no, not at all.

Sov Sabotage
I will also briefly mention that there seems to be an implication that you can use your Entosis link to sabotage station services. Like, say, clone bays, half an hour before a battle. This is interesting. it also, basically, throws open a whole gamut of interesting fight trolling possiblities for wormhole dwellers such as myself - got out, use a 0MN MWD Confessor in a quiet system, and sabotage a bunch of vital services. To get fights, of course.not because there's acres of dullsec with no people living in it and itinerant assholes can fuck everyone's lives over.

Capture the Flag Coming June 2015
This is just the introduction of 'capture the flag' capping mechanics. In fact, this hybridises the whole nullsec sov warfare system down towards a lowsec faction warfare style system. It will work something like this.

First you begin the capture process by taking ten minutes out of your day to begin a sov leeching exercise. If anyone's awake, they will undock a Tornado and blap your Imicus. If not, you succeed.

Once you have "sov lazored" the TCU, ten capture beacons get spawned in the constellation, with a difficulty level (read: Entosis leeching time sink) related to the sov level of the upgrades / indices present.

You and your foe then play whack-a-mole with the capture beacons. if you succeed in capping the ten beacons, the target system goes into Freeport Mode, and allies and foes get to play silly-buggers on undock until they get bored of Jita 4-4 Sim (copyright CCP games 1999-2015) .

Bragging Right Death Knell
The TCU and Ihub and Stations are all becoming independent of one another. You will no longer need a TCU active to anchor an Ihub or Station, and hence the TCU is just a claim of ownership - and the upkeep fees will be zero. The costs are shifted to Ihubs and Stations, meaning that it is basically irrelevant who claims the system as it costs nothing and confers no benefits.

In fact, it is arguable whether or not anyone would even want a flag planted so that everyone knows where your space is. Why not just not have a TCU at all and live secretly and nomadically off Ihubs which don't show up on a map?This really undermines the whole concept of sovereignty at it's most basic level - Ihubs and Stations can become like the Vatican City, really - self-contained entities within the sovereign borders of another state, with their own rules and taxes and conclaves of pedophiles hiding out from the law. Expect to see silly sov-holding alliances formed (sillier than today's at least) to hold title to systems within which others live and work.

The Upside
Sounds good, I suppose. Devolve giant structure grind fights into ten smaller individual conflicts spread out amongst the constellation.Give real benefit for highly upgraded space owned by active corporations and alliances and throw open the vastly underutilised wastelands of renter space to smaller entities who want to leech space or plant a flag.

Give people the ability to go covert and live in stations within systems owned by joke alliances on a map which disintegrates and balkanises into a confusing melange of meaningless shell corporations, alliances and the like.

This will provide more fluid battles, more skirmishing, less utility in just blobbing the utter living fuck out of a station with 80 Titans to flip the timer in 5 minutes, which we can all agree is a Good Thing(tm). Certainly, unless the recent soft nerf to the Ishtar and Bouncer are effective, Ishtar producers can look forward to a profitable second half of 2015 as more and more ishtar skirmish fleets will be deployed.

The Wrinkle
However, the wrinkle in the pie is this - there is an owner-defined vulnerable time called the Prime Time. It is, currently, a 4 hour window which the defender (let's say, a Russian rental empire) sets to coincide with the time during which they are online and active.

So, let's say your Russian botlords have a fully upgraded constelation, number hundreds of players, and are not all just coward instadocking carrier or Mackinaw alts/bots. Their space will be four times as hard (read: long) to make vulnerable. It will then be sixteen times harder to dislodge them due to the leverage of a fully upgraded constellation, because they get time-efficiency benefits essentially, related to their upgrade level. Plus, if your attacker is, say, a US based and dominated alliance, their prime time doesn't overlap at all and so no one will be awake at 4 a.m. to take out the sov of the Russians.

The upside of this, for AU alliances, is the timers are all synched to the Prime Time vulnerability window, so it'll no longer be the case as it has been that the Aussies do the initial RF and the UK-US get the fights. The Antipodean curse is lifted....and replaced with a new one which says that after June, no Aussies will be able to effectively steal meaningful sov. 

The Impact
This has immediate implications for nullsec, right now.

The obvious one is that there's going to be three months in which to grind sov if you want it. After this hits, if your foe has upgraded space you will need to devote huge amounts of time and resources to displodging them due to the time leverage upgraded space confers.

Secondly, it is no longer good enough to upgrade one key dead-end system in a dead-end constellation. The command nodes can spawn anywhere and their difficulty runs off the local system level. hence a fully upgraded dead end surrounded by wasteland space will be easy to flip. Alliances will need to make decisions on upgrading key constellations as bastion space, not just key systems. This will set the tone for any potential warfare because unoccupied, undefended constellations will be more easily defeated and hard to defend.

Thirdly, station services and sabotage attacks will be key - and given the speed at which un-upgraded space can be sabotaged (as little as 15 minutes) I foresee a lot of softening-up attacks. For instance, knocking out the repair or fitting services in stations will be an early goal, to knacker the foe's ability to dock, refit and undock reparired ships indefinitely.

My opinion?

Firstly, the 250km 10MN MWD sov snipers, if no one mentions them, will be hilarious. I think we need to see these come into the game and be abused horribly because kitefags and ships deploying oversized MWD's etc need to be addressed in a general sense, and maybe this is the way to do it - hit the nulltards where it hurts with sabotaged stations caused by uncatchable kitefag Confessors.

Secondly, I like the idea of devolving sov from EHP to time based gameplay. I think the balance will come with the choices about the length of time for a capture event, the handling of the ships and fits abusing the Entosis Links, and the strategic mathematics behind upgrading. This is a better choice than simply putting more EHP in front of a foe and winning via boredom - in fact, it may result in the goals of the exercise being achieved - turn nullsec sov from a machine run by the biggest engines with the biggest horsepwoer into one run by the best PVPers, the best skirmishers and the most dedicated attackers.

However, I think that the Prime Time mechanic really has the possibility of stagnating large areas of nullsec and causing fights and occupancy based entirely on the nationality, hemisphere and language base of the owner. There's nothing an Aussie alliance can do to flip a UK alliance's sov without the game of sov becoming a 2 a.m. shitfest. It's basically that simple, and that stark. Your only option is to maybe snipe a contest that's going on past the initial vulnerability window, once the attacker (working the EU timezone) and defender (EU timezone) get bored and go to bed, and their US timezone allies also go to bed, leaving you, the poor cunts in Australia or Asia, to attempt a ninja capping before the server goes down and the EU wakes up.

I will look forward to seeing what PESKY does, come June.


  1. From what I read command node capture time is based on the system triggering the event, not the sytem the node spawns in.

    The difficulty of capturing systems outside of your TZ might be an issue. On the other hand, once you have sov it will be just as hard to take away for someone else. (less benefit as drawback though) But at the moment structures have timers set by the defender as well right?

    1. Sov timers have to be defended, but since the 48 hours is determined by the attacker's timing of the initial reinforcement trigger, the initiative is up to the attacker.

      Example; NC Dot attacks Esoteria, held by Russians. They assault the region in UK TZ and spawn a 48 hour RF timer, which rolls around and lands in UK TZ. The next timer rolls around in 48 hours after that. Therefore the timezone is chosen by the attacker.
      Example 2: POS sieges. 40 hour RF's mean the Aussies get a friday night assault, to begin a 48 hour timer which drops it out Sunday a.m. for Aussies, which is Sat night US TZ and early a.m. EU TZ. This, basically, suits everyone except if you're an Aussie and hate humping POSs for hours.

      The new system, you canot even BEGIN the whole cycle unless you begin in a 4 hour window of time chosen by the defender.

      Example: Russians in Esoteria consciously choose a time slot which favours them, and lands at 1-5 a.m. AU TZ, 1-5 p.m. US TZ and prime time midday Rusland. No Aussies turn up, ever, because seriously, it's fucked. Fuck that.

      The opposite would of course be true. But the point is, you can choose 20 hours of the day when sov assualts cannot vbe begin. At all. Ever. Just by magic.

      I bet the US would have loved to have sov mechanics in pear Harbor which totally meant none of the Pacific Fleet could be sunk at their moorings because it wasn't 6 p.m. in Washington. or Poland set its sov timer so that when the Wehrmacht rolled in across the border they couldn't damage a single building or bridge or drop a single bomb.

      This, ultimately, is a little too much power to be given to a defender. I mean, you're a fucking defender. if you're being attacked by someone, and not attacking first, you are on the defensive. It's ridiculous to think that defending yourself gets to occur when YOU want it. it destroys a whole slew of gameplay, logistical, numrical and organisational advantages some groups may have over others to win battles and win sov, and replaces it with some fucking ridiculous idea that a victim gets to choose when to be victimised. It's artificial, contrived and bad for gameplay.

    2. You are right, I was confused with POS I think, where the amount of strontium you put in determines the reinforcement timer and you can set it for 36 hours so that hopefully it will come out at a bad time for the attacker.


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