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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bombers, Caracals, and Talwars, Oh my!

While null sec gets most of the press on and Eve News 24, CCP knows full well that most characters in New Eden spend their time exclusively in high-sec.  Now, many of these characters are market, trader, hauler, and mission alts of null-sec players, and these characters will likely never leave the protective womb of CONCORD.  Yet there are thousands of players who were turned off by the risk factor of null-sec.
Greedy Goblin makes a good distinction between two types of players, competitive and objective-oriented.  I refer to them as experience and achievement players, but the dichotomy is pretty much the same.  I’d hazard a guess that most high-sec mission-running players are achievement-focused.  Calling them carebears and leaving it at that is a great disservice both to them and to null-sec players.  After all, someone has to fill and empty the POS, run industry, etc.  If it’s not an achievement player, it’ll have to be an experience player, and the latter would much rather spend their time killing folks.
One of the CCP’s objectives with the Retribution expansion was to make PvP more accessible to the larger Eve populace, namely these achievement players.  And it worked like a charm, drawing a whole new set of players into PvP.  It’s easier to try something new when you only have to risk a lose a Stabber than a Vagabond.  Rebalancing the T1 ships made them viable again, and lowered the cost of entry across the board.
Then Odyssey came, and with it came moon goo roulette.  The CFC, Test, N3, and pretty much everyone else lost their minds as they did the region shuffle.  Wars were pandemic (see what I did there?), supercapitals were welped, fleets of AHACs and Rokhs were wiped out.  In Fountain, the CFC and Test Bros adjusted their fleet comps to counter their opponents…
…by choosing talwars, caracals, and bombers?
Wait… what?  Extremely wealthy alliances are fielding T1 cruisers and destroyers, along with stealth bombers?
I suspect this development is a problem for CCP.  A while back, they revealed some stats about player wallets, indicating that players were earning more isk, but were hoarding it rather than spending it.  I know I’m also building a cushion in case something catastrophic happens to my hangar.  What that *something* is eludes me, but I’m clearly not the only one doing it.  After Retribution, most of my hangar shifted from T2 to T1.  It simply doesn’t make sense to risk 3x the isk when I go solo roaming when I can get more fights – and ones I can win, at that – with the T1 variants.
Alliances, on the other hand, have been nerfed significantly by the Odyssey moon goo changes.  Ship replacement programs are in significant jeopardy now.  Two alliances have asked for donations from their members (donations!).  The CFC switched to caracal and bomber doctrines.  Test is fond of Talwars.  I’ve gone on several Tornado roams where Razor runs into T1 fleets.  Normally, we decimate them, but when we don’t it only takes a few Tornado losses to make the engagement isk-neutral or unfavorable.  I have to imagine this has made some alliances (those interested in isk-efficiency) risk-adverse to using their own shinies.  From the way doctrines have gotten less expensive, I’d have to guess that this has already started to happen.
Why does this matter?  Two reasons.  First, I wonder how long T1 frigates will interest null-sec players, and even low-sec players for that matter.  I doubt a group like Goonswarm will be discouraged (they’re famous for grinding structures for weeks and months on end), but is that true of everyone?  You can only spend so many days killing Caracals or Talwars before you start to burn out and yearn for the sexier kills.  My heart skips a beat when I kill a T3, an Armageddon, or a carrier because of the value of the kill.
And it’s definitely true that Eve matters because the losses are significant.  A 250 mil ship loss hurts a lot more than a 40 mil one does.  When I engage some hapless pilot with my Cynabal, my heart starts pumping and the adrenaline kicks in.  By the end of the fight, my hands are shaking – even if I’m only killing a hauler.  It’s not the fight itself, but the possibilities… it could be a Battle Badger with a cyno and I could lose my pretty little slug.  A gate camp could be waiting on the other side.  When I’m flying a Stabber?  Meh, I just don’t care that much.
Faction warfare is already a good refuge for players who want constant, cheap PvP.  And Retribution provided a huge shot in the arm for faction warfare.  It’s great, if it’s your sort of thing.  But the changes to moon goo in Odyssey have already undercut the high-risk PvP that draws a lot of people to null-sec.
And that brings me to my other concern.  CCP has a vested interest in providing the drug we’re all addicted to.  When an Asakai, Burn Jita, or a large wormhole fight happens and billions of isk is destroyed, some portion of that will end up being replenished with PLEX.  Granted, ship replacement and wormhole loot will replenish most of it, but not everyone is as patient as that, and some folks need isk immediately (especially after a Burn Jita when mission runners need to replace their expensive ships before they can earn more isk – that event wasn’t all about jump freighters!).  When the thousands of engagements happening every day turn from 250 mil Cynabals to 40 mil Stabbers, CCP loses.  Fewer players feel they need their ratting alts, so they unsubscribe.  Fewer players suffer huge losses, so they stop buying PLEX.  And – to some extent – fewer players get the same thrill from killing T1 throwaway ships and Bittervet Syndrome becomes more prevalent.
I want CCP to make money, particularly in ways that players can opt into and which don’t generate a pay-to-win situation, like PLEX.  The more money CCP makes, the more developers they can hire and the more advertising they can do to thwart player bleed.  I’m curious which has a larger effect on the total amount of isk lost in the game: the increase in the number of ships lost or the decrease in the individual value of those lost ships.  I’m sure CCP is watching PLEX sales and isk loss very carefully, and I suspect the T2 rebalances – and iterations of it - will reflect those discoveries.
One further side note: there’s a lot of talk about CCP doing away with moon goo as a passive income source.  I sincerely hope they don’t, because all it’ll do is eliminate most ship replacement programs and encourage null-sec alliances to further down-shift their doctrines.  I shudder to think of a null populated by slap-fights in ships that can literally be replaced by the hundreds.  A much better option would be to help better distribute those moons – both by smoothing out the distribution and introducing some advantage for living near the moons you own (which could mean reducing the cargo size of silos, perhaps?
I like an Eve that has low, mid, and high value PvP available to us pilots.

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