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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.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

All This Has Happened Before

If you haven’t had the chance yet, read The Mittani’s Goonswarm update.  He spends a lot of time building narrative and discussing Omegafleet, which you can honestly skip if you’re not actively involved in the RUS war.

But in the middle, he touches on much of the history behind why he and the leaders of the CFC are so eager to smash the faces of N3.  Essentially, Goonswarm has been fighting the same enemies time and again.  The corp tickers change, but the characters themselves remain the same.

This gets me thinking about the nature of null-sec iterative cycle.  Goonswarm and allies fight BOB, Goonswarm wins.  BOB turns into someone else who’s still butt-hurt about Goonswarm fighting them, and the cycle repeats.  Roughly the same enemies, roughly the same sides, just different regions.  The only reason the fleet doctrines change is because of mechanics. 

You’ll have this in any system in which characters are immortal.  It’s actually quite difficult to lose skill points, save for insurance stupidity or T3 skill loss.  Without death, pilots are able to continue to charge into the fray.  Your alliance goes down?  Form another to gain a few months’ lead-time, then get back to it.  Unless CCP gives capsuleers regeneration limits like Time Lords, we’ll never be short of angry pilots for the front lines.

Now, it’s pretty clear that the reason for this is one of propaganda.  The CFC has every incentive for reminding its members (or educating newer members) of the reasons why they’re face-smashing their current enemy.  Tying it to previous conflicts and old grudges is certainly a way to motivate the populace.  So long as the leadership of one side or the other insists upon evoking this history, it’ll continue to build and the cycle will repeat.

So, the fact of and reasons for this cycle are clear, but the question remains… is this good or bad for null-sec?

On the one side, the cyclical nature of this conflict ensures a steady supply of content.  Null-sec is never without a major war for more than a couple months at a time.  The prospect of blowing people up is what draws people to null-sec in the first place, and the bloc wars offer a lot of opportunity for that.  It certainly isn’t for everyone, but it provides an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere.  Null-sec players hunger for PvP content.

And the only thing better than content is viscerally satisfying content.  To fight someone is good.  To fight someone you hate is even better; if you win, you’ve crushed an enemy, but if you lose, you build your hunger for the next engagement.

But on the other side of the coin, the fact that the same fights keep happening again and again makes it very difficult for new factions to enter the fray.  Only by teaming up with one of the two sides of the eternal war can it really happen, and if they do that, they inherit a whole set of enemies along with their new allies, which a lot of alliances are hesitant to do.

The endless war iteration also contributes to the apparent stagnation of null-sec.  While regions are, in fact, switching hands left and right, the feeling among the player base is that nothing changes, since the same players are always involved.

Then there’s the big blue doughnut.  While it certainly wasn’t true earlier, it’s pretty clear that a story is being built about an inexorable slow grind to complete CFC null-sec domination.  They suffer their share of setbacks, but the CFC has only gained regions over the past two years.  Granted, it’s happened through tenacity more than skill (I absolutely believe every null bloc has pretty much the same skill at this game, it’s only organization and leadership that varies).

And that’s a problem.  When you face an endless cycle of war between the same two power blocs, the bloc that loses the first war is in a weaker position for the second one.  The mechanics makes it very difficult for the initial loser to recover his footing.

So, which wins out?  The constant supply of content or the contribution to the status quo of CFC dominance?  Positive or negative?  I’m not sure, and I can’t say whether a continuation of the eternal iteration is a good thing or a bad thing for null-sec.  Only time will tell.

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