FozzieSov is due to launch on July 14, one week after the Aegis update. With it will come a complete re-working of the way sovereignty works, focusing more on individual reinforcement actions and (hopefully) small gang capture actions. I’ve talked about FozzieSov here and here. I’ve expressed the concern that null-sec won’t be worth the cost of holding it. FozzieSov is in a better place now than it was originally, but like the fleet warp changes, it still has its problems.
After doing a lot of listening and thinking, here are my predictions about changes we’re going to see directly as a result of FozzieSov (and not including other changes happening around the same time).
Prediction #1: Concurrent user counts depend on FozzieSov’s success.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but Eve logged-in player counts are going to be in a world of hurt if FozzieSov is seen as a giant mistake. A huge factor affecting this perception is going to be how – and how quickly – CCP adjusts null-sec income and “worth”. As of now, we’ve seen absolutely nothing about CCP’s strategies on how they intend on adjusting null-sec value to overcome the headaches null-sec alliances are going to have to cope with. If they can respond quickly and effectively, this can herald the beginning of a golden age for a balkanized null-sec. If it fails, they’ll destroy any interest in null-sec and it’ll become even less occupied than it is now. The implications of this result would be staggering and massive.
Prediction #2: Existing sov holders will be inundated with troll entosising.
Speaking of headaches, while every sov holder is going to have their share of meaningless timers generated by bored passers-by, the Imperium is going to take a brunt of these timers. Out of the gate, I would expect all of its enemies – including PL, NC., and the like – to hit them pretty hard with entosising. The goal isn’t going to be as much to take their space – the Imperium would take anything lost back quickly – as it will be to inject a little humility: “We can hit you up any time and stall any efforts you attempt anywhere else.” The first couple months are going to be an attempt to send a message that every sov holder is vulnerable at any time, and should think twice about deployments. These efforts aren’t going to seriously threaten the Imperium, but that’s not the point. In a couple months, these efforts will drop to a trickle.
Prediction #3: Entosis defense is not going to be fun.
Yes, I said it. Entosis defense isn’t going to be fun for those who join a null-sec corp for meaningful combat, and not for the joy of owning and cultivating a space. Very quickly, line members are going to tire of the “busy work” of capturing nodes that attackers have no intention of contesting. We may see PvP-focused players and characters leaving these null alliances if the sov holders mandate participation in index-grinding ratting or node capture fleets.
Prediction #4: The meaning of “We’re a null-sec alliance!” is going to change.
Under Dominion sov, the definition of, “We are a null-sec alliance,” means you specialize in large fleet action, taking and defending large timers, and focusing almost exclusively on PvP while allowing certain necessary isk-generating activities. Funding comes from null-sec moon revenue, and the alliance typically has required fleets for timers. More often than not, it includes deployments to hot zones in coordination with and against other alliances.
This definition is going to change dramatically under FozzieSov. Now, “we are a null-sec alliance” is going to imply a heavy focus on cultivating one’s own space. Ratting, mining, index-building, and home defense will become a larger part of alliance activities than going elsewhere to find PvP opportunities. Small gang skill will be more heavily valued, and alliances will likely increase their small gang roams to cultivate these skills, likely through wormholes. Deployments will still be a thing, though.
Prediction #5: The Reavers will be very busy.
Goonswarm has a tradition of charging into other people’s houses and smashing up the place, then leaving when they find another place to stomp. The Reavers are going to be constantly deployed to one location or another, entosising all the things. This will be non-stop, and they may morph into the Imperium’s offensive wing while Imperium alliances officially remain at home to handle defense. Because it’s a unified force from among all Imperium alliances, they will be potent enough to consistently project power anywhere, despite the attacks that will be constant and frequent at home.
Prediction #6: Small-gang PvP alliances will glut themselves on content.
Years ago, it was a good time to be a pirate alliance preying on null-sec holders. Back when you faced smaller groups and space filled with players, pirate alliances had a field day killing anything not in a fleet. A roam into null-sec was guaranteed to yield at least a couple kills. Alliances that choose to stay in null-sec will actively cultivate their space, and this is going to attract the hunters. Space will be teeming with very fast, nigh-impossible-to-catch ships choosing their engagements and avoiding anything capable of killing them. Expect lots of YouTube videos about slippery ruffians outflying large groups of ratters and home defense fleets. Null-sec is going to move more towards the side of being a place PvP players go TO when they want to get some kills, not a place they emerge FROM to get kills. I expect some good PvP corps to move to low-sec staging areas closer to null-sec.
Prediction #7: Coalitions will not be going anywhere.
FozzieSov will do nothing to change long-term coalitions built out of mutual respect and a history of cooperation. The Imperium, Provibloc, and the Russians will remain intact, and nothing will change this. If anything, having blues around your space will be more critical, so you can limit your liability from entosis trolling. With multiple characters per player, it will be the norm for players to have one defensive/ratting character and one deployed character (just like it is now). I don’t believe we’ll see new long-lasting coalitions emerge, though. The level of trust, comfort, and integration necessary to succeed will be too high and the stresses will be too immediate to survive the early stages.
Prediction #8: Freeports will not become more common.
While inviting all-comers to use your space is a great way to boost sov indexes, they also increase the risk of entosising. The risk will not outweigh the benefit, and freeports won’t become more common.
Prediction #9: Either Sov-null will become a boom-town or a ghost-town.
There’s no middle ground. Either FozzieSov will provide plenty of opportunities for players and it’ll become well-populated again OR the hassle will outweigh the benefits and players will leave in droves. If the latter, you’ll still see players day-tripping in null-sec and running sites, but they’ll do so with a self-contained Tengu and no loyalty to anyone who owns it.
So, there you have it. With some of these, I hope I’m wrong. Change is definitely coming, and the real numbers behind these variables will determine whether null-sec becomes a healthy or sickly ecosystem. Whether null-sec survives depends to a great extent on whether more players move to null-sec to cultivate space or decide to leave for a better risk/reward equation.