A corpmate and I were involved in a discussion about the state of null-sec, and the topic of B0TLRD came up recently. For those of you who aren’t aware, in a nutshell B0TLRD is an agreement between the CFC and Pandemic Legion that neither will interfere with sov or POS structures of the other in a laundry list of claimed systems, nor camp or otherwise disrupt each others’ rental empires to any great extent (roams are okay, gatecamps are okay, but no cloaky camps that shut down entire systems for hours on end), nor move fleets of a size that could constitute a sov threat.
Effectively B0TLRD removes risk from about 2/3 of the galaxy for the CFC coalition and PL alliance. Note the phrasing of that… I’ll get to that later.
My corpmate made the following comment:
“Tal I have to disagree with the B0TLRD accords being the source of stagnation [in null-sec]. It's much, MUCH bigger than that. B0TLORD protects our space, as well as BOT's space.. and that's it. It keeps both CFC and PL from engaging each other, as well as hotdropping each other in their own space. It does *NOT* Protect PL's allies (N3 or their renters).”
I suspect a number of people share the same opinion, and on the surface, it seems to be an accurate one. But I respectfully disagree with it. B0TLRD is a huge cause of stagnation, and I believe it’s directly responsible for the malaise, unsubs, and migration from sov entities currently affecting null-sec.
Let me explain.
B0TLRD Creates Safety
It’s undeniably true that B0TLRD creates a safer environment for the signatories. Both the CFC and PL are meticulous in honoring the exact terms of their agreements. Sure, they’ll screw you some other way, but neither is going to exploit B0TLRD to sneak forces into each other’s staging systems and to headshot the other.
As a result, the CFC gains the freedom to deploy wherever they want to cause a ruckus in someone else’s space without having to worry about PL super-slapping them, or joining anyone else to super-slap them. PL doesn’t have the numbers to engage in multiple battles on multiple fronts, as would happen if the CFC decided they wanted to seize PL’s rental empire under Brothers of Tangra. That’d be difficult for PL to contend with under the best of circumstances.
Don’t forget, they’re –corporations-. Null-sec is business. And that’s exactly what B0TLRD ensures… that business continues to boom. No moon goo interruption, no expensive sov wars, no destruction of baby Titans or supercarriers. It’s a way for coalitions and alliances to solidify their funding.
Note the absence. Roaming gangs and ratter ganks are still perfectly acceptable. Ratters and miners are, in particular, more susceptible to roaming gangs than PvP pilots, and PvE losses are generally not eligible for SRP, SRP being the only way individual losses can impact an alliance’s bottom line. In every way that affects the individuals directly, the risk of loss that defines null-sec life is still there. B0TLRD does nothing to assure individual income or safety.
So, when we talk about safety, we’re talking about safety for alliances and coalitions only. Roams, which most often result in ganks in null-sec, are still very much alive, but these costs fall squarely on the shoulders of the players themselves. I don’t know of a single alliance that reimburses for ratting ship losses (nor should they). But the dichotomy is an interesting one. B0TLRD simultaneously reduces meaningful content, preserves alliance revenue, and specifically calls for the continuation of player-focused loss.
B0TLRD Prevents Risk from Third Parties
Sure, B0TLRD prevents the CFC and PL from going to war (war in null-sec defined as taking away each other’s infrastructure), but that leaves the rest of the universe, right?
The CFC, PL, and N3 are the vast majority of sov owners in null, representing the lion’s share of titans and supercarriers. N3 and PL are tightly allied to combat the CFC’s power, but B0TLRD effectively turns this relationship into a defensive alliance. If someone attacks one, they must attack both.
The remaining players can’t really threaten anyone. If they all teamed up with N3, they could make things difficult for the CFC, but I doubt even that even that could counter the CFC’s super and titan forces – not without PL. CFC sov is safe from all comers as a result of B0TLRD; at worst, they have a POS here or there picked at by independent entities, but their sov is secure. A big war with real risk of loss isn’t going to happen to N3, PL, of the CFC.
Reductionem Ad Nihilim
And that risk of loss is essential to keeping null-sec meaningful and passionate. Part of what draws players to Eve is the fact that they stand to lose ships and modules every time they undock. The losses are real, the risks are real. And when the risk of loss is real, it imparts meaning. That’s the “content” people talk about as it relates to null-sec – the narrative of importance. Without it, we’re playing a game of risk with no real consequences.
Think about your personal activity. Do you care as much about a pre-season scrimmage of your favorite football team as you do a playoff game? What percentage of those who scream at the television in despair or joy in the post-season are doing the same thing during the pre-season? A couple, sure. But certainly not many. Our minds wander, we focus on different things, different games, different priorities. Ultimately, the only thing that Eve can use to encourage null-sec players to log in and keep their subscriptions up is that sense of importance, immersion, and engagement. When it’s present, Eve is a virtual universe with consequences to every action, where every person has an emotional investment in being a part of the story. Without it, Eve is just a spaceship game, hollow where it should be overflowing with emotion.
Yes, those fights are entertaining. But it’s not as entertaining as being part of something larger – not in null-sec. And because of that, people are choosing to do “something else” instead of playing. The meaning isn’t there. And B0TLRD represents the absence of the very soul of null-sec.
And the lack of that meaning is, in my opinion, the reason why USTZ numbers are averaging 19-20k during the weekdays. Those who are still active are flocking to low-sec to get those fights. The promise of null-sec is laying unfulfilled. And if null-sec doesn’t evoke the passion needed to encourage us to care about what happens there, what’s the point of it?