Monday, July 13, 2015

A Real Benefit of Sov Ownership

In my last post, I made a comment that the PvE changes were unlikely to result in any great benefit to the null-sec community, and I wanted to go into a little more detail about why.

First, let me state again that my goal for null-sec is to make it a thriving economic center that justifies the cost and effort of maintaining it.  As value increases, so should difficulty.  As difficulty of holding sov increases, so should value, not just to an alliance, but to the individual members maintaining it.

Compared to Dominion sov, FozzieSov requires alliances to dedicate the vast majority of their time to cultivating and maintaining that space.  Industry and military indexes aren’t going to raise themselves, and every level those indexes rise results in reduced hassle when someone comes calling.

I say “reduced” because some entosis attempts each day are going to succeed, spawning the need to do “faction warfare for no LP” to clear the nodes and push the system back into safety.  If someone is dedicated to trolling your sov, that means you’ll need to manage both node-clearing and entosis-preventing on the second day, and third, and… you get the picture.  And all of that needs to be done even if the attacker’s is only trying to cause you aggravation (ie. he doesn’t intend to contest any of these notes).

And I haven’t even mentioned what happens if the attackers decide to escalate the fun by bubbling all the gates.  First, you’d have the hilarity of watching all those defenders warp their ratting ships to bubbled gates on the way to their staging system to reship into a PvP ship.  Then you have the hilarity of watching defenders have to slow-boat it from gate to gate as they attempt to contest the incursion.

Sure, there are lots of ways for attackers to counter these problems.  But at some point, players are going to ask, “Why should I spend all my time running around preventing entosising, when I could leave this alliance and be free to be the attacker?”

Most null-sec players have other means of earning isk (most often high-sec), and even if they don’t, nothing stops them from taking a safari to someone else’s space to run signatures (combat, data, and relic).  Wormhole players do this all the time, and they usually manage a couple kills out in the process, too.

The key failing of the overall system – not FozzieSov’s capture mechanics – is that an interloper can do all the things a sov owner can.  Alliances are compressing their space to what they can manage, which will increase the density per system for owned space.  But unowned space is going to be just as empty as it is now.  There are plenty of people in Venal who don’t need iHub upgrades to make a great living running Guristas signatures, entirely outside of the need to own sov.  All you need is a Tengu and a mobile depot.

And once pilots start figuring this out, the next logical question is, “If I can make my isk without being a part of this alliance, and the PvP activities consist of running around capturing nodes, why am I doing this?  Why not just join FW and make my isk on my own, at a lower tax rate?”

FozzieSov creates this hassle for sov owners, but pirates and aggressors will have a field day.  Those who want PvP are likely better off joining these “harasser” alliances.  Those who want isk can go free-roaming to gain it or, more likely, simply use their high-sec alts for revenue.  As a non-sov-holder, you get to dump on everyone when you want, how you want, with no means of retaliation.  And when you break your enemy, you can rat in their space freely.  That’s a pretty sweet deal.

For, right now, the only thing an individual pilot gains from being part of a sov-holding alliance is good “feelies” from “being part of something!”  That gets old very quickly when faced with an endless string of boredom or reactive play.

Making the Juice Worth the Squeeze

I love that subtitle phrase, by the way…

I’ve been a bit “doom and gloom” lately.  I hope CCP has a contingency plan, and I suspect the 11th hour PvE changes CCP announced on July 8th are a result of a dawning realization that they neglected to address the positive rewards to sov ownership.  I give them credit for pushing some buttons and moving some levers now instead of after FozzieSov deploys.  However, the slap-dash nature of these PvE changes – all factors that really consist of changing variables in a data table – tells me they didn’t plan this, but rather accelerated their timeline to quickly respond.

And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what they’re trying to do.  This is a good sign.  CCP isn’t phoning this one in.  But they still need to be ready to shift to another sov model – not simply revert to Dominion – in 2015 if FozzieSov is a disaster.  They seem to be looking at things and be aware of the risks.

But in the end, the solution they offer has to provide very real, tangible benefits to both individual players and alliances for owning sovereignty – but not too much sovereignty! – if they want null-sec to thrive.  Their plans for bottom-up alliance income and discouraging coalitions need to provide tangible, real benefits for sov owners beyond that which non-sov owners can gain from the same system.  And as the current income system – alliances earning moon goo profits and filtering it down to the players – clearly seems to be on the way out, they have the perfect chance to test out some possible solutions with little long-term risk.

Yes, I buried the lead in that last paragraph.  Did you catch it?  Members of an alliance that owns sov need to be in an advantaged position over those who do not within a given system.  If Circle of Two owns system AB-CDE and both a Co2 ratter and an interloper are ratting the same type of site with the same skills, the Co2 player should get more bounties than the interloper.  Same work, privileged results.

If you want an in-game reason, you can call it Co2 hacking the data-stream reporting the bounties to CONCORD.  Or you can spike bounties across the board and add a new “local infrastructure tax” that brings the bounties for a non-sov holder back to the current level, but which doesn’t apply when a sov holder rats in their own space (presumably, this money would come out of their corp taxes or alliances taxes, which we badly need for bottom-up income generation).

The same could be done for PI, mining, and industry production.  The key is in providing clear advantages for owning sov.  The alliance may pay the bills, but the members themselves should be the beneficiaries.

The benefits of this kind of preferential treatment are significant.  First, rather than rewarding everyone everywhere, it provides a targeted value that encourages people to participate in the sov system.   Goonswarm members wouldn’t get extra bounties for ratting in NC. space (they’re apparently getting the band back together), nor would they get extra bounties for ratting in empire space or running missions.  This bonus would only apply when Goonswarm members rat in Goonswarm space.

I suspect a 25% yield bonus when mining in your alliance’s own space and a 25% production cost decrease would do wonders to encourage local null-sec industry, as well.  And increased PI yields for only those who belong to the system’s alliance owner?  That’d be an incentive to run more PI production chains and preserve sovereignty in those systems.

And all of these bonuses would create a very real, necessary reason for players to fight for their sovereignty, a reason that would outweigh the hassle this new system brings.  Taking an unoccupied system will be very, very easy under FozzieSov, which means everyone can get in on the action of sov ownership.  The barriers to entry have never been lower.  Let’s incentivize people to actually walk through the door.

The neat part of this solution is that it also overcomes an objection from high-sec players.  This boost to null profitability would not weaken the value of high-sec operations.  CCP is clearly moving in the direction of local null-sec production, which will change the economic factors high-sec faces as well. While more resources would be gained in null, those resources are more likely to be used in null if industrialists enjoy a production bonus.  This would have a neutral or favorable effect on the value of high-sec isk faucet payouts.  In essence, your bounty money will go just as far.  Jita will still likely remain a central clearinghouse for any faction equipment, so faction and deadspace equipment from FW and LP payouts and signature drops will likely retain their value.

This solution also discourages the “safari ratter”, as null residents would have real incentives to remain close to home.  If a cosmic anomaly in Providence pays 25% more than that same anomaly in another region, a CVA player is more likely to stay in Provi.  And that bonus might be enough to encourage a player to join a sov null alliance or encourage his alliance to take sov, driving players to live in null-sec when they otherwise wouldn’t have.


It’s not enough to make “null sec more profitable”.  The key of FozzieSov and the complimentary null alliance economic model should be to make “ownership of sovereignty in null-sec more profitable.” 

That’s how you cajole players and alliances to care enough to own sovereignty, despite the increased hassle.  And that’s how you can make FozzieSov a success: tie increased profit to sov ownership in a very tangible way.


  1. I agree that holding sov needs to actually be worth it. Hopefully CCP can see this as well..

  2. I don't live in null but this looks like a great idea. The production bonus % seems a bit op but the idea is sound. Perhaps another idea would be for non sov members to pay a tax to the sov owner when ratting on top of their corp tax.

  3. Excellent points all-around. It's definitely a core issue of null-sec, incentives to actually get out there and make content other than bragging rights, those get old fast.

  4. is all about pride !

  5. Well thought out. I believe this has real merit. - insidious Sainthood

  6. I do not think that there will be a lot of new sov holders in null sec. Big alliances need an in house it infrastructure these days. And there are no freeware solutions for this like there is in wh space.
    The unused systems will become the bufferzone.

    1. There actually are - Brave has a whole suite of open source tools, and is willing to help you get started if you ask nicely.

  7. Some good thinking here, but I have serious significant reservations about what you've said. I'm going to post two replies, since you've got two mini-articles.

    My main, and major, objection is to how you have described Null-sec players' activities. I find it frustrating that you continue to argue for a laissez faire player approach where players do not, and will not, and should not adapt to changes.

    I'll try and describe what I understand of your idea.

    1) 'Troll' players are reported in intel.
    2) Players make their way from ratting grounds to their home station.
    3) Players form up into a fleet to take on this one interceptor/ small roaming gang.
    4) Having gathered an overwhelming advantage, the player undocks and chases away/kills this 'troll'.

    Do you see the problem? You're responding inefficiently, ineffectively, and inappropriately.

    Your players aren't local to their own sov, they're far away. They're not pro-actively hunting the 'troll', they're docking up and grouping up. They only undock when they have the advantage.

    This works great for Dominion Sov, but woeful for Fozzie Sov. Why should players be rewarded for deliberately playing badly?

    Honestly, you start off with the false premises, and continue with them.

    1) If you're failing to stop Entosis attacks, you're failing as a local alliance.

    2) 'Trolls' are contesting your space. If they set up bubbles on your gates, why haven't you seen this and stopped them?

    3) A sustained attempt to drop your sov isn't a 'troll'. It is an attack . They are attacking you. Why are you deliberately not defending yourself?

    Phrasing these things as 'troll-ish' is a way of ignoring how badly you're performing.

    I'll outline my idea for a 'counter-troll' response.

    1) Trolls are reported in the intel channel.
    2) Pilots switch to interceptors and undock, interrupting troll attempts.
    3) If a serious response is required, players from un-attacked space are organised in their local systems, and make their way to the affected area.
    4) Overwhelming firepower is brought to bear on this obvious attack on our sovereignty.

    See how I react quickly, interrupt attempts before they can start, organise a serious response to an actual problem, and remove the problem?

    Ideally, you should never have to suffer *any* node contests, because you've not failed at an earlier stage. Become proactive in your defence, or take your punishment which is due.

    Rob K.

    1. We've spent all this time talking about "making content happen", a philosophy that instills travel and movement away from "home".

      I can see a lot of sense in what you say. I do think, though, that an alliance should be able to manage a couple constellations fairly easily under an effective sov system. And even being 3 jumps away can take ten minutes to move to your ships, swap out, and move to the aggressor, assuming no prep or form-up time.

      And I don't see people spending all their time in their sov space. Ultimately, being in your space is a PvE action, or a lot of boredom at the off-chance that something "might" happen. PvPers aren't going to tolerate that for long; they're going to go to where the action is.

      I'm suspicious of any system that seems to demand 100% prevention. It doesn't work like that in real life.

      Or I could be entirely wrong and everything will be fine.

    2. So I just accidentally deleted my second post by signing out :|. which is mildly frustrating.

      I'm going to convert your 'couple of constellations' into a region, because I don't know the average number of systems in a constellation, but Dotlan has region stats.

      Choosing 4 regions at random it seems like the average number of systems in a region is about 80. Looking at CFC alliance sizes (ignoring GSF), they seem to average between 3-5000 people.

      If we follow the rough ratio of Endie's corp (probably not representative), then 60% of those are people, and thus 1/6 of those guys are active in a 4 hour blocks. This give us 300 players. Lets say half of those are ratting/exploring.

      Now, I don't know about you, but 150 pilots should be enough to deflect a couple of trolls, presuming sensible deployment. Sub-optimal deployment is the problem.

      I'm kinda with you on Alliance area coverage. I think that alliances will have a top size based on their 'Flash-form' ability, where skilled PVP pilots will be in demand. As an aside, it is why I suspect GSF has been inviting competent corps like Repercussus, PL; CYNOU, and NC.; Adversity. Low-sec corps have a high SP average, strong flash forms, and reasonable pilots.

      As for "ten minutes to move to your ships," I'm thinking that that number needs to come down. Places like Provi will have a gigantic advantage, because they've invested in so many safe outposts. 'Blob' alliances with too much space won't have the same ability.

      Ultimately, the biggest problem here is Attitude . CCP has created a game of 'providers' (sometimes unwilling), and consumers. PvPers are consumers who are looking for a fix. Previously they've had the protection of ehp to defend them whilst they roam, and this won't be the case now. PvPers need to be focussed on the 'Defend our home' narrative, not the 'I could be roaming' approach.

      Or alternatively, they could just not blue the next 3 regions, and have to fight off other players all the time *winks*

      As for "100% prevention", it really only needs to be something like 95%. That's 5 nodes to capture, presuming they stop 19 of the 20 attempts. There will be people willing to support their alliance.

      How do I know? I am one :)

      Rob K.

    3. See, I agree that skilled PvP pilots will be in demand. I just don't think skilled PvP pilots will be satisfied with killing the occasional enemy. Skilled PvP pilots are going to go where they can get the most kills. They're going to want to fight outnumbered, against the odds, and are going to be looking for bragging rights by rubbing how awesome they are in everyone's faces. They look down on "blob" alliances and when they look at them, they see soft, fat targets ripe for being shredded.

      Skilled PvPers are, in short, the Fremen of Eve. I actually think they're going to stream out of null-sec for the same reason skilled British sailors fled the navy to become pirates. It's more profitable attacking the fat, rich targets, and a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

      Yeah, they're going to be in demand. I'll be curious to see how successful null alliances are at recruiting small gang specialists. My suspicion is that they'll use delaying tactics and numerical superiority (cynos, titans on standby, and lots and lots of bubbles) to weaponize boredom; making pushing into their space such a chore that people get bored of it and wander off to do it to someone else.

      The idea of patrolling defensively does not appeal to small gang specialists. Not to the ones you really want to have on your side.

  8. True enough. Agility in adjustments are critical.

  9. Troll attempts are easy enough to ward off. Just keep a small stable of alts where they need to be, sitting in Mauluses with sensor damps and T1 entosis links. If a troll ship comes along, log in the alt, undock the maulus, damp the troll until he can't see the end of his own nose and entosis-link your own station if necessary. Done. There's no reason for anyone to go through any gates or form anything up for anything less than a serious attack.

    Not to mention that if there aren't already a number of people in a system where you have a contestable structure, during your prime time, then you are almost certainly biting off more than you can chew. Those structures are vulnerable because they're supposed to be.

    As for buffing null income even further? Don't hold your breath. Nullsec industry already has multiple bonuses that depend on owning sov. Nullsec mining has had three significant buffs in two years. Nullsec anomalies are already such an enormous ISK geyser--easily the largest in the game--that any payout increases with go through devices like the ESS and sites that spawn materials, not through bounties.

    Furthermore, as Fozzie has said, "we know how much money you make in null, and it's a shit-ton." 125% of a shit-ton is not going to happen. These buffs are cautious because, as CCP said in the dev blog, any further buffs to the nullsec ISK geyser are dangerous.

    The hard nerf to explorers is also easy enough for a sov owner to back, I suppose, but do you really not want people flying through dangerous space in big, shiny boats? I thought that was something people wanted more of. Well, in the worst case it's more content for wormholes and for low sec.


    1. Good argument. It'll be interesting to see the effects. I admit, I'm a little different from most. I don't take a lot of pride killing a shiny mission boat with 50 people. I'll do it, of course, but I'm not going to look back with pride on it. Winning 2v1 where I'm the "1", yeah, that's something I'll remember. Even losing 3v1 where I take a couple down works out okay for me. Not all content is created equal.

  10. I think you're still getting distracted by the phrase people usually use "make sov worth holding" instead of the actual problem, which is that sov needs to be worth *defending*. Like, you make a series of arguments for why people might find it not worth it to defend sov, but then you ignore that therefore the obvious solution is to keep your stuff somewhere non-sov and just ... leave ... if someone tries to troll you out of your sov. After all, if they don't want it either, it should be easy to take it back when they get bored, right?

    So, make it worth defending, and preferably not just in a sense of "Ermahgerd I'm going to lose my investment," because I'd expect that to mainly discourage investment.

    1. Yep, that is the obvious solution. Is that a healthy null-sec environment, though, if everyone decides to say, "Screw this," and leaves?

      That's largely what happened with the Age of Coalitions... so many small players aren't here anymore... the winners were TOO successful at burning them down, to the point that only the ultra-efficient can survive. That seems... wrong... somehow.

    2. It may be "wrong", but I'd say it's a case of the game imitating life.

      The model I had was that a small group moves in; they get indices up a bit and install a mining upgrade or two and some ratting upgrades... and attempt to make back their investment in the upgrades. (Fortunately, the early ones are not too expensive.) Eventually, someone like PL decides they've fished out their current pond and moves to this new one.

      The thing is, once you get tired of the fights generated, you can do a straight-up cost-benefit analysis: is it going to cost less to evacuate, or will it be worth it to try to hold the space? If it costs less to rebuild and you can afford (in alliance cohesion, largely) to evacuate, there's no reason not to leave, present a deliberately fished-out pond, and go move into some desert that the PL types have already left behind.

      And yeah, that model is downright depressing - which is why I feel like "make holding the space worth it" doesn't do much compared to making it actually worth not moving out and instead trying to hold your ground... with a carrot above and beyond saving rebuilding costs.

    3. To my mind, if it's worth holding, it's worth defending. More to the point, holding = defending, in my parlance.

    4. Having lived in most of these situations, things are very different between the following situations:
      1) Nobody can be arsed to attack you
      2) Nobody wants to attack you because you'll bring an overwhelming resopnse
      3) Somebody is setting timers to force fights but doesn't want the space
      4) Somebody is out for your blood

      Scenario 1 will let even small groups get the advantages of sovnull, but only as long as they're ignored. Most attempts to increase the "value" of sovnull seem to want to make it worthwhile for these people. Scenario 2 is the Imperium. any simple sov income bonus will benefit them much more than people in Scenario 1. Scenario 3 is what PL does, among other people. If you're a Scenario 1 smallholder who can't win the fights, the best response is to just leave. It will cost you fewer assets to let them burn it all down and rebuild when they get bored than to attempt to hang on. Finally, Scenario 4 is an all-out sovwar. If you leave, they're not going to get bored. Deciding to make them pay blood for the space is a different calculation from Scenario 3.

      The way I see it, making Scenarios 1 and 2 more profitable will only serve to enrich the entrenched superpowers who are describable as (2), rather than places like, say, Provibloc, which is describably by (1). So, no. "Worth holding" is different from "worth defending", because you can absolutely get in a situation where you can't hold the space you have against any minor effort on a superpower level, but nobody is deploying what it'd take to evict you.

      I've been in a small-scale "make them pay for every inch, on principle" sovwar before. It's a lot of fun. (That was probably the single most fun week I've ever had playing EVE. I didn't sleep much.) We also poured an amazing amount of riches into, essentially, a black hole, to hold on, and we'd have actually lost a lot less if we hadn't been winning some of the fights. I think the defender ought to be compensated for actually doing that instead of doing the rational thing and just leaving.

    5. I've been in all 4 of those situations, too, Ranamar and I'm just gonna have to disagree with you.

      If it's not worth holding, it's not worth defending.

      The ability to defend a space does not correlate to whether or not that space is worth defending/holding, in my opinion.

      That said, I don't disagree with your evaluation of the 4 broad scenarios.

      I've been in an objectively small-scale bloodbath before, too. Only it lasted 2 months. It's not fun.

  11. I do like the idea of giving a benefit to holding sov. We already have some of this in the current system, but I do think it needs expanding. Less fuel costs for POSes, slightly higher bounty payouts (25% is way too much), etc, should be part of an economic reason to hold sov in null.

    But it can't be only economic. A huge part of why people want to hold sov has to be building sandcastles, in my opinion. Give them some real advantages for doing so, but make building an empire be the main reason.

    I live in w-space and I don't live there primarily for economic reasons. I live there because it's like holding sov but without all the BS. My group owns our system because we live in it and defend it. We have an emotional attachment to it.

    1. Very much this. A completely dry economic reason isn't going to get anyone interested at all, and will be something Players will hit CCP with for 'missing the mark'.

      CCP needs to find a way of making building sand castles emotionally involved. I don't know how they can do it, I don't really 'get' the reason people live in null-sec, apart from the ISK. There's some suggestion that it 'Name on the map' attraction, and some idea of 'Empire Building'. I can understand the first more than the second, because how many Null-sec players have anchored the important networks of jump bridges and PoS towers?

      My suggestion would be to put *all* the ISK rewards of null-sec (and arguably all of the other resources) into development. It is a radical idea, but I think it makes sense.

      Nerf Rat Bounties by 90% (maybe more) and convert the ESS into a 10 x Total Bounty collected structure. (Maybe make this a function of how long the ESS has been anchored.)

      Similarly, change moon mining to be sov owner only.

      Change sov so that there are very few asteroid belts and anoms, and vastly increase the numbers they spawn from upgrades.

      Remove escalations from anom entirely, and remove the relic/data/wormhole/complex upgrades too.

      Don't allow Command Centre anchoring unless you're the owner (which already happens), and don't allow people to use PI unless they're the owners.

      Don't allow POS anchoring unless you're the owner.
      Etc, etc.

      In essence, make investing in systems required to make them viable. This way, you're focussed on the 'What we have built' idea, and not the 'what can we replace easily' idea.

      If the theory holds true, that people value what they have worked for, then this *should* encourage ownership. If it doesn't, CCP has a problem.

      Rob K.

  12. Tal -

    You bring up some interesting points in this and some rather broad assumptions too. In my mind, and a selling point i have heard time and again in various corps, is that sov is an end game, a Holy Grail of Eve. You are casting it as not since it would take work under this new mechanic to defend. Maybe that is the point of FzSov, to make the game more or less conflict oriented?

    I am not a huge game mechanic person, but the logic of your article rests more on the status quo, and being a part of GSF, that is in your best interest and not the game's interest. Yes, owning sov should give you reasons (e.g. benefits) as opposed to a random capsuleer coming through your system, but as a thief I should be able to get the same value of the item you have too. best real life example would be hacking the cable TV lines or electrical system of your neighbor to get free cable TV or power. They may hve the benefit of tech support, but I have the benefit of free power. Your logic that if we own a system we get 25% better just because. I can see a reduced rate for the "interlopers" (to use your term) like buff/nerf in a WH where one benefits for knowing the system better than another.

    Overall I think the idea of holding what you have should be more of the focus than the idea you have sov being a place I go and find fights. Go with the flow and maybe being the pirate is your calling.