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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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jump Ranges to 7 ly, Boys!

As of a few minutes ago, CCP Larkin announced a pretty badly needed change to jump ranges that will be hitting in the November Ascension expansion. With this change, carriers will have a maximum range of 7 ly (two more than currently) and supers will be able to travel to 6 ly. While that doesn't seem like a particularly big deal to non-capital pilots, try plugging a few routes into jumpplanner and you'll see how important it is. Quite often on long routes, you can end up with the response, "No route is possible" taking only cyno jumps.

Within the post, CCP Larkin stated that the company's goals are to:

  • Reintroduce a natural path for capital combat to escalate.
  • Differentiate the power projection of Capitals and Sub-Capitals.
  • Allow alternative logistics and force projection paths into space that is currently very difficult to access.
  • Open up chokepoints and allow jump paths to be a little less predictable.

While this change will be almost universally praised by capital-capable pilots, will it achieve those goals, and are those goals even worthy?

I mentioned a few posts ago how I was looking at a 17-jump route between where I purchased my carrier and where I'd be using it. It was such a frustrating amount of cyno coordination that I was willing to wait for a suitable wormhole connection, no matter how long it took.

As it turned out, the answer was four days, but that route involved a dangerous gate jump across regions (from low-to-null, no less) and two wormholes, any point of which I could have been interdicted. Yet, I was willing to risk all of that just to avoid the nightmare that is post-Phoebe capital navigation. Yes, it's that bad.

But now, I'm tossed a live preserver, in the form of a 40% increase in jump range. I think it's safe to say that nearly everyone is going to be happy with this change because of the simple fact of range increases alone. But that's not really enough.

One of the aspects that a lot of capital pilots really enjoyed about the old jump ranges was the variation between titan, supercarrier, and capital ranges. It made coordination a thing, and created some interesting diversity. Cunning use of staging systems pre-Phoebe (and, mind you, before capitals could take gates) meant that a smaller group could drop dreads on an enemy's staging system, but could be out of range of an overwhelming titan blob because of differences in jump range. The decision about whether you're bringing capitals or supers would affect your route, how many mids you'd need, and how fast you could go.

Phoebe came and standardized all combat capital movement to 5 ly at max. That really took something out of capital gameplay that players have quietly missed. As it stands now, dreads are almost always the lesser option than any other capital. Titans put out more damage with the same siege restrictions, while carriers and supers can apply strong damage while still being able to warp off at will and handle subcaps. And, that's just one example.

But now, dreads and carriers can be a more mobile attack platform again, and the task you're undertaking can affect what you decide to take. Perhaps you send the dreads, carriers, and FAXes in first while your supers and titans take a couple gates to get into range (though, leaving your supers and titans on their own can be risky for other reasons). But it does offer the option. Do you need something on-grid immediately, with reinforcements coming later? An agile opponent could split your supers from your capitals or force you to make some decisions by attacking in multiple places at once.

One thing is certain, even excepting the halved range compared to pre-Phoebe, we aren't going back to the bad old days of capital blobs globe-spanning. After all, fatigue is still a very real thing, and shotgunning two 7-ly jumps will trigger upwards of 6 hrs of fatigue.

This change, though, indicates that CCP was listening when we complained about the number of chokepoints in space. Some groups have definitely exploited these chokepoints (i.e. never take a capital through Airidia), and are bagging capital kills left and right as people are forced to use dangerous routes because they have no other choice.

Courtesy of Caprisunkraftfoods, and not the delicious drink
Variation in route may become a thing again - someone with more free time than I have will need to run the map to see what a 7-ly range looks like compared to these maps. But we certainly stand to profit more than just by losing fewer cynosural generators.

Supercap and capital logistics affect the size of a theater of war. Where they can go creates the amount of contested space that can exist within any conflict, since attacking sovereignty assets - practically speaking - requires capitals. The age of citadels requires the ability to counter-drop, and right now, a small capital jump range means there are any so many places capitals can drop; it's predictable, and this works against the "fight in many systems" approach CCP is hoping for.

While 7 ly is a boost, I don't think it'll undo the good work Phoebe did in compartmentalizing space. The fatigue hit will make it unfeasible for non-local groups to drop an alliance's capital fleet, but it should add a little more risk to fielding capital assets. I don't think we'll see a reduction in the capital usage that spiked once every alliance didn't have to worry about PL carting across the map to drop on them anymore.

Sure, some areas of space will be more affected than others. After all, different regions were added at different times and with different design philosophies (I'm looking at you, dronelands). All inter-regional jump ranges were determined before capitals could use gates. The map has a lot of idiosyncrasies that cause problems for various residents and defenders, and this jump range buff should help alleviate a lot of that.

Logistics should be a lot easier. After all, there should be no situation in which "you can't get there from here", and I imagine CCP's jump range buff should address these scenarios. Getting 80 minutes of fatigue vs. 60 minutes isn't a big deal if you're just looking to do a one-time move across the map, since you get to go 40% further with each jump. In the long run, it probably saves you time. If you shotgun two jumps in a row before bed (during which your fatigue will dissipate), you're 14 ly closer to your destination, not 10. That's a big deal, and will reduce the number of days it takes to complete a long move.

This is a good change, and returns some interesting possibilities to the game. As a casual capital pilot, I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

2 comments:

  1. "(i.e. never take a capital through Airidia)"

    Says the guy who told me I should definitely take a capital through Aridia alone.

    Also, I think that should be "e.g." as it is an example of a choke point, and not a restatement or simplification of your message, where an "i.e." would be appropriate.

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    1. Good grammar catch. Suffice it to say, my understanding of chokepoints has evolved over the past few weeks!

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