As expected, I drew a lot of angry visitors with part 1
of this guide.
Whether I propose nerfs
to high-sec or buffs to null-sec, the result was the same: making high-sec
relatively less valuable, and that’s a big no-no suggestion in Eve.
But if you want to draw players into null, it
has to be done (and yes, I recognize that some players simply won’t lave
But getting the players to null is worthless without having
a compelling environment for them. The
suggestions in Part 1 won’t work unless you address the problems with
sovereignty and stagnation currently infesting null-sec.
Yes, this is the “we’ve got to fix the big blue doughnut”
portion of this topic’s festivities.
And keep in mind the proviso in the intro to this guide
that the suggestions I’m proposing must involve little to no CCP development
work on new features, but rather tweak existing calculations, modifiers, and
The goal? To see a
null-sec filled with small gangs, lots of small alliances holding space, and an
environment in which any null entity need only travel a dozen jumps to fight
Right now, null-sec has two significant problems related to
sovereignty, sov mechanics that result in power concentrations and the ease of
force projection. By power
concentrations, I mean both the inexorable trend of coalition-izing and the
mechanics themselves that require large, well-organized fleets to seize and
hold territory. Changing both will in
turn limit force projection.
The CFC is the current hegemon in null-sec. With its organization, willingness to drop
dead weight and add new blood, and policy shift to convert much of its space to
rental space, I see nothing to suggest it can be stopped, or even slowed down. In Fountain, the CFC fought against nearly
every null entity of note. It was
victorious because of coordination – a collection of coalitions cannot fight as
well as a single large coalition can. If
the CFC falls, it’ll be because of an internal rot that isn’t presently in
This is very bad for Eve.
Null-sec thrives on conflict.
Regardless of whether the CFC conquers all of null or not, the other
null entities have already begun concentrating into coalitions of their
own. Eve is becoming a game of space
empires, and within the borders of those empires, no fighting occurs. I’d much rather have a game of space fiefdoms
with hundreds of alliances fighting on all of their borders. Such a universe would offer more
opportunities for conflict than a couple coalitions do. And make no mistake – Eve is a game of
But how can we create space fiefdoms again?
As much as people condemn it, CCP needs to implement some
sort of escalating sov cost algorithm. The
sov cost value can be replaced by an algorithm based on the number of systems
owned. Anyone with children can tell you
managing two children is three times as difficult as managing one. The same can be said for nearly any object in
the real world; its this tendency that leads to every large empire in history
crumbling from its own weight. Right
now, costs and effort are infinitely scalable, and this unending scalability
breaks the normal pattern. There is no
“weight” to cause the crumbling.
The costs of managing six systems shouldn’t be as high, on
average, as the costs of managing a hundred.
Now, I propose a noticeable, but not ruinous, increase in costs, with a
net decrease when alliances own only a couple systems. An escalating sov cost system fits in with
insurance costs, clone costs, and faction warfare costs, so it has clear
precedents within Eve.
This sort of system won’t force a hard cap, but – as will
all things in Eve – alliances will need to make decisions about how they spend
their income… additional systems, or discounted ship contracts, or ship
replacement, but not all of them. Eve is
a game of choices, after all.
But an increase in sov costs means the larger alliances,
those more likely to deploy to distant regions, will have less isk available to
fund these deployments, forcing them to be choosy about where and why they
deploy. It might make more sense to
observe a possible enemy for longer to determine if he will actually post a
threat, rather than squash him when he’s still small. This would generate larger wars, and allow
more entities to develop to a point when they could competently defend
The trick is to make it difficult to travel across the
galaxy, but keep local cap use affordable.
Increases in jump fuel costs would harm everyone, distant and local cap
use alike. And escalating fuel costs by
light-years jumped won’t work since large null alliances have access to dozens
of cyno alts to let them make many small jumps, rather than a few large jumps. It’s also this prevalence of cyno alts in
large alliances that makes a reduction in jump range simply annoying, not
effective, and more harmful to smaller alliances.
Now it’s very likely that larger alliances may divide into
two or more allied alliances to keep sov costs down. This is certainly a possibility, but doing so
requires a level of logistical deftness that few entities possess.
Let’s say Alliance A breaks into A and B. If their neighbor failcascades, they would
need to set up Alliance C to own that new space. When previously managing one alliance, are
they going to be eager to manage three now?
And when the next neighbor attacks Alliance C, are they going to conquer
them as well, and set up Alliance D?
Very quickly, the logistics of running multiple alliances will
crumble. And with reputation being what
it is, the collapse of even one of those alliances will suggest weakness to its
neighbors. Initially, this splitting
solution may be popular, but I doubt we’d see more than three or four instances
of it a few months down the road.
Adjustments to Sov
Right now, sov is taken by destroying one large, high-hp
objection at a time. The optimal way of
doing this is to bring a fleet of supercarriers or dreads and blapping it
quickly. But how many alliances can field
a fleet of supercarriers? Current sov
mechanics favor blobbing by wealthy alliances, and effectively crowd out
This makes no sense, to be quite frank. Warfare in the modern world involves multiple
strategic objections that need to be struck to control an area. Why not implement a system similar to faction
warfare, but without the annoying PvE component? Instead of SBUs and TCUs, doesn’t it make
sense for an alliance to need to establish control at multiple areas within a
I propose replacing TCUs with much less-expensive and
lower-hp anchorable structures that must be placed at every planet. For simplicity, let’s call them planetary
control units. These units would have
much less hp, so a fleet of 10 battleships could chew through one in about ten
minutes. Each would afford a reinforce
cycle: this mechanic is essential for any international game so the defenders
could muster. And attackers would only
need to take out half the planetary PCUs to make a system vulnerable.
However, with six to twelve PCUs in reinforce, system owners
would face more complicated tasks to defend a system than “form up on TCU, blap
anything nearby”. If a fleet of 10
battleships could take one out in 10 minutes, attackers could take on larger
alliances more easily. With a fleet of
50 battleships, they could destroy a PCU in two minutes, with 100, in one
minute. Defenders would need to split
their forces among several PCUs to engage attackers before they succeeded in
destroying the PCU.
Ah, but what about when small alliances are attacked by
larger alliances? They have two
options. If the enemy divides to hit
multiple PCUs, a smaller alliance – using bubbles to delay reinforcements)
could maintain local superiority at a single planet, drive off or destroy the
enemy, and move to the next (this is Napoleon’s famous “central
position”). If the enemy attacks each in
sequence, there’s always bombing, the grand equalizer. Owning the systems, defenders can easily set
up bombing bookmarks perfectly in line with celestials (to eliminate the
possibility of being caught). Fourteen
pilots can eliminate an entire attacking fleet (more on this in part III)
easily. And to sweeten the deal, let’s
make PCUs immune to bomb damage.
The “half must be covered” mechanic already exists for TCUs,
and can be easily mapped to planets instead of gates. Changes to ehp can be done easily; not much
programming required. Admittedly, making
PCUs immune to bomb damage requires some coding. But the advantages – smaller fleets can put
sov structures into reinforce much quicker and more points must be attacked at
once, making agility more important than numbers – give smaller alliances a
We can also eliminate iHubs and make each upgrade a
separate, attackable object that has to be placed around a planet, to provide
more items to attack. These upgrades
wouldn’t include a reinforce timer, but nor would they be destroyed, only
incapacitated. In this way, alliances
wouldn’t have to pay for replacement upgrades, but they would have to repair
them before being able to use those upgrades in a system again. Again, these objects would be smaller and
have lower amounts of HP – less than a small tower, more than a POS
module. If you want to use your space,
you would have to be present to defend your space. As an added benefit, no longer would
alliances need freighters to bring an iHub into a system. That’s just annoying, and favors larger alliances.
An important element would be cost… sov components should
not be very expensive; the costs should come from upkeep and maintenance costs,
not initial outlay. Small alliances
don’t have the funds up front to pay the exorbitant costs associated with
taking sov. Large alliances that get in
over their heads would choke on the spoils of war.
By decentralizing the attack points, we give smaller
alliances the opportunity to concentrate their forces to attack larger
alliances that spread themselves out to quickly burn a system. This sort of mechanic would also help curb
force projection; if systems can easily be put in danger, alliances would be
encouraged to stay closer to home.
Taking systems would be messier and increase overall sov costs, meaning
that it would be done by large entities only for good reasons with clear benefits.
To bring us back to a universe of may smaller alliances –
and the many more alliance borders that see the majority of fights, we need to
keep alliances close to home.
If we can
accomplish this, we give alliances less of an incentive to remain snugly next
to friendly neighbors; a big blue doughnut looks a lot less appealing if your
PvP alliance is forbidden from shooting at all your neighbors and you can’t
regularly deploy to a distant region for PvP content.
Creating a sov system that allows much smaller entities to
successfully take a system would further encourage alliances to live in their
space if for no reason other than to remain on hand to defend it. Right now, there are only a handful of entities
that can seriously threaten a regional invasion, and only a couple that can
hope to hold it once taken. That needs
to change to ensure a vibrant null-sec.
Every sov-holding alliance should see real benefits to
holding sov, real threats to losing it, and face decision-making in how they spend
And for every alliance we can bring into null-sec, that’s
another source both of roaming gangs and targets. It’s another group of people who can now play
in the null sandbox. And it’s
entertaining in a way that the past several wars haven’t been: anything can
One thing is certain.
Current sov mechanics don’t allow smaller alliances to gain a foothold,
let alone survive, unless they’re allied with the larger blocs. Creating a system in which alliances can only
handle so many systems and must defend their systems from guerilla raids would
help keep alliances preoccupied with their own space, which would create the
breathing room for smaller alliances to grow and prosper. And this benefits anyone who is truly
interested in a PvP-filled null-sec.