Armchair Game Design: Capitals are no longer the ‘centre’ piece of fleets.

Jin’Taan recently released a very good piece on INN and so I thought I would also talk a little about capital ships from another angle.

A key component of eve-online has always been the various relationships between different sizes of ships and the power of electronic warfare and crowd control – A brand new player who has been playing a week with an Alpha status account, can board a Crucifier, join in a fight and completely neutralise a 10 year veteran in a 500 million ISK HAC such as an Eagle, a Muninn or a battleship such as the Megathron worth hundreds of times his ship. Likewise, a few cheap cruisers like Thoraxs and a Blackbird flown by brand new players working together can take down a bling fit veteran in a 3b fit Strategic Cruiser. A new player in a Slasher can hold down a veteran in their faction battleship for a long duration due to how tracking works in the game and the relationship between large weapons and small hull sizes.

These rules are what make eve-online interesting. And in many ways making a friend is more important than upgrading your ship. In other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, a level 12 player would not even be able to do anything to a max level capped player. Eve-Online’s combat is incredibly unique in that respect. You can literally jump right into the action (no pun intended). Griffins, Slashers, Crucifiers, Exequrors – There are Dozens of ships that can turn the tide of battle flown by someone who has only been playing for 1 week on a free to play alpha account.

Unfortunately, these rules no longer apply when it comes to capital ships. Since the vast majority of them have excessive resistances against crowd control mechanics. Capital Ships in essence break the Jedi Curve.

I feel like this has greatly diminished the value of new players in the game, and given CCP’s commitment to new player retention announced at EVE North, I feel like this area should be a huge concern for them.

These resistances made and make sense from a game design perspective if you consider Capital ships the centrepiece of a battlefield and rare/hard to replace. For example, in an idealistic version of eve, you may consider a single titan as the most important ship in a fleet, backed up by a handful of other capitals, complemented by a large sub-capital fleet. In this case, you would not want the most useful/strategically important ships to be able to be neutralised by 1 new player in a throw-away ship or it almost completely diminishes it’s value. Unfortunately, due to capital proliferation caused by a combination of factors – Large influx of wealth from capital PVE, Rorquals producing a large amount of minerals, Skill Injectors vastly reducing the wait time, engineering complexes vastly reducing the risk and improving the speed at which capitals and super capitals can be produced, and Keepstars allowing the storage of super-capital ships making them far more accessible we’ve entered into an age where multiple full 256 man Titan fleets are a thing.

AHORTT7.png

Titans have become so prolific that they get more daily kills than Black Ops and Marauders do. And normal capital ships see more regular combat than many other specialised T2 cruisers and Battlecruiser groups.

Almost all of these things have snowballed and escalated together. ‘Umbrellas’ of mass capitals all operating within a single area of space compliment each-other and neutralise almost all of the opportunity to destroy these ships when flown optimally. This in turn allows them to better farm in safety, producing more capital ships, farming more skill injectors for pilots until a critical mass point is realised where they are almost unassailable. In almost any of the current nullsec coalition staging areas today, it’s impossible for anyone to win an engagement within jump drive distance of their space without having to move in their own capital force. Even Dread-bombs and picking off the occasional capital ships are now largely ineffective, because the few super capitals that do die are easily out-produced by a gross factor making them largely inconsequential to the corporation let alone the alliance. Titans are now personal losses, not alliance or even corp level ones.

Another powerful tool capital ships have at their disposal is the ability to ignore travel time with their jump drives. While in the freedom provided by eve’s fitting system you could easily fit battleships with the ability to deal with mass swarms of frigates by fitting energy warfare, flights of small drones, smart-bombs, heavy tackle and smaller weapons, they are still limited by their ability to move and their targeting time and frigates/cruisers can easily outmanoeuvre them if they don’t wish to engage, and they can be still be overcome through use of crowd control. Unfortunately, with AoE weapons on titans not requiring lock time, NSA to carriers and super-carriers boosting them to destroyer levels and other mechanics such as Triage. Capital ships simply cannot be outmanoeuvred in their concentrated area of space. And as Jin’Taan outlines, due to the utility of support fighters and access to high application weapons, they do not need to bring anything other than jump-drive capable capital ships.

Currently the main problems with capital ships in general are they often do sub-capital roles better, while having all of the benefits that a ‘rare’ and ‘hard to replace’ ship should have, while actually not being that much harder to replace than a regular sub capital ship. With many specialised T3 cruisers costing more, and prior to the Insurance changes earlier this year, were less expensive to lose than some T2 cruisers.

Carriers and Super-Carriers I think are actually quite reasonable (Although I absolutely abhor their ability to use support fighters). Because sub-capitals can at least interact with them by killing their deployable fighters or by using weapon disruption on them. I do not understand why super-capitals themselves need special electronic warfare resistances though. I also think this calls into question whether supers or titans should have built in warp core strength. I think it would be highly ‘eve-like’ if a single week old player in a slasher was what held down a Hel long enough for it to be killed.

FAX have triage which makes them incredibly resistant to crowd control mechanics, you cannot damp or jam them, so your only ability to interact with them is to either overwhelm them with DPS or to neut them out, however, due to cap booster 3200s, neutralisers are not an issue at all. Essentially, a FAX can only really be interacted with by heavy damage or completely stopping it from entering the fight (which with current cyno mechanics is near impossible).

Dreadnoughts are perfectly fine with Crowd Control resistance if you consider what their primary role was prior to the citadel expansion. An Anti-Structure/Anti-Capital ship that should be immobilised, easy to pin down and evade by smaller craft, essentially the siege tower of eve-online, when they did apply to battleships, they needed heavy webbing and application support from subcapital ships such as Vindicators and infolinked Huginns. Unfortunately, with the addition of HAWs to the game, they have now become the anti-sub capital ship of choice for alliances defending their capital umbrella. The siege resistances that make sense from an anti-capital/anti-structure perspective, do not make sense here in my opinion, essentially they have 3x the damage output of a battleship, with a huge tank, better tracking due to the model size, and effective immunity to crowd control, meaning the only way to really overwhelm them is your own capital ships or having excessive numbers.

Titans combine the problematic aspects of Dreadnoughts with far more power, unique Doomsday weapons, even stronger crowd control immunity while not having to immobilise itself, the ability to receive remote repair unlike dreadnoughts, and approximately 15-20x the EHP of a tank fit Dreadnought (if not way more on certain Titans). HAWs are far more effective on a Titan due it’s ability to move, the larger model giving tracking bonuses as Jin mentions in his article.

While these incredibly powerful bonuses would, again, be perfectly acceptable if a Titan was something that was an incredibly important asset and only few would ever be fielded, in the most important strategic objectives. In the current Era of eve where Black Ops battleships are rarer and incredibly more niche than a Titan, they do not make sense. Why shouldn’t a newbro in a Crucifier be able to neutralise a Titan, and force the Titan to need support to kill that Crucifier in order to be able to function effectively?  The same newbro can hold down a Panther in his Slasher, neutralise a Redeemer in his Crucifier.

The answer generally provided by “gotmysuperin2019” is IT’S A CAPITAL SHIP! IT’S IMPORTANT! YOU JUST WANT TO SOLO KILL TITANS IN YOUR EXPLORATION BUZZARD!!!! But a Capital Ship is simply not important or special in today’s eve. It has a lot of power from the fact that it’s supposed to be a ship that is difficult to replace (not just the ISK cost required to build it, but in the time required) but that’s simply not there anymore with current null-sec infrastructure.

Unfortunately, all of these resistances mean that the only way to kill Titans is to bring your own, bigger group of Titans. And whoever has the largest ball of Titans wins the game, regardless of strategy. We saw this earlier this year in Tribute, where if you cannot effectively bring 80% or more of the enemy’s Titan count, your best bet is to retreat, consolidate and just stand down, as we saw PL and NC. do.

I do not feel like these resistances are problematic if Titans and Dreadnoughts did not have HAW weaponry. And I feel like perhaps a good community discussion to have is whether or not HAW Titans and HAW Dreadnoughts should still maintain their immunity to crowd control mechanics since it effectively makes damage the only real way to interact with them, and new players are being heavily punished by their inability to effectively interact with capitals.

 

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Armchair Game Design: Capitals are no longer the ‘centre’ piece of fleets.

The Geography of Botting.

The Subject of botting has returned to being one of the most heated eve community topics with CCP Peligro tweeting out information early last week after a wave of newly created bots in Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere and Fraternity. Treasury were banned.

peligro
This prompted some community discussion and CCP Peligro delivered more information later in the week. On May the 9th, CCP Peligro tweeted out this pie chart showing the top 25 alliances by permanently banned user from eve-online from 2006 where the data collection started.  

1Vd42Be.png

The 25 Most banned Alliances appear as follows;
Shadow of xXDEATHXx – 13%
Solar Citizens – 10%
Brothers of Tangra – 10%
Solar Wing – 8%
Northern Associates – 6%
RED Citizens – 5%
AAA Citizens – 5%
Fraternity. Treasury – 5%
Ultima Rati0 – 4%
Pan-Intergalatic Business Community – 3%
Initiative Associates – 3%
ROL. Citizens – 3%
Kids With Guns Alliance – 2%
Red Alliance – 2%
Rolling Thunder. – 2%
Stainless. – 2%
Wings Wanderers – 2%
xFive ShadowSx – 2%
Circle of Hell – 2%
Citizens Squads – 2%
Claimed – 2%
Cohortes Triall – 2%
Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere – 2%
Hand of Despair – 2%
Inver Brass – 2%

What is immediately obvious here is that every single alliance listed on this list with maybe the slight exception of Red Alliance is a rental group or a group which relied heavily on mercenary protection (pseudo renting essentially with protection fees). What I think is a more interesting approach and where my take is on this is to look into each one of these rental alliances and the area of space in which they rented or occupied.

3uTfmDi.png

Here is a really shitty image I spent 60s in MS Paint making. I color coded the various regions in eve using the following criteria

Green: Region has NPC stations present.
Yellow: Region is neighbours with lowsec or a region with NPC stations.
Orange: Region has no NPC region neighbours and you must travel entirely through an adjacent region to reach a NPC station.
Red: Region has no NPC region neighbours and you must travel entirely through TWO adjacent regions in order to reach a NPC station.

If you take a quick look at this image you’ll see that there are only 2 regions that meet the red criteria. Omist and Detorid. In 2018, Kids With Guns Alliance, and Fraternity. Treasury both were among the most banned alliances in the game for botting. It comes to no surprise that these alliances at the top of the ban list also live and use space in proximity around these 2 highlighted, difficult to access regions.

NPC Stations and NPC space is important as it allows players who wish to harass the locals and create conflict locally the ability to stage and launch attacks from them.

Problem areas (highlighted in orange) are regions where any hunters or small gang players generally avoid. These are isolated regions that house either the most risk averse minded players and often the most likely to be inhibited by bots due to the safety in exclusion that they provide. Paragon Soul, Feythabolis, Tenerifis, Immensea, Wicked Creek, Insmother, The Spire, Malpais, Outer Passage, Oasa and Cobalt Edge are all regions that are difficult to roam to, and also happen to be the home of the alliances that have accounts that get banned for botting. Every single one of these regions has had an eve sub-reddit post about them in the last 6 months.

Here is a map provided to me by Innominate, using a color key to display systems based on how far away from the nearest NPC region.

KrqW1uc.png

Here is another but this time displaying capital jump ranges.

IGz4C0T.png

Now back to our list. The Top 5 Alliances, unsurprisingly, all have held control over the drone regions and the south east of eve for almost a decade throughout their combined history. Just these 5 groups make up nearly 50% of the entire list of banned accounts in alliances in the last 13 years!  I’d recommend viewing this sov time lapse youtube video which shows the alliance sovereignty influence map from 2007-2017. Take a look back at that banned alliance list and see how the vast majority of them pop up in regions that I’ve highlighted, and appear in space appearing on Innominates maps. It’s clear that there is an undeniable link between difficulty to access space and the amount of botting that happens in the region.

So how do we solve this and test the hypothesis? 

My Proposal would be the following.

Tenerifis: Add a NPC constellation with stations somewhere on the eastern side of the region. Tenerifis borders 2 of the red regions identified on my map (Omist and Detorid) and is a good central location. On the eastern side Tenerifis has connections to both Omist, Immensea and Detorid, providing good access to all three would serve as a great staging point reducing a lot of the NPC stationless space identified on Innominates map.

tenerifis npc constellation
Place an NPC constellation in Tenerifis somewhere in this circle.

Drone Regions: Adding an NPC constellation to this area of space has been a long requested feature of the PVP community, it is by far the most unassailable space in the game, with systems being tightly clustered within jump range of each other for an established capital force to easily defend but at the same time being several actual system jumps apart and full of chokepoints making it difficult to navigate and roam for sub-capital invaders.

drones

Place an NPC constellation somewhere in this cluster of systems (Malpais ideally) The Drone Regions could also probably use some added regional gate connections to improve the number of jumps to travel from region to region.

Hopefully this could lead to more explosions and less botting.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this piece and I’m interested in hearing what you think about how geography and botting are interlinked.

The Geography of Botting.

How broken and oppressive is Light Fighter and Heavy Fighter application: Maths Edition.

Fighters have been a big pain point for small to medium gangs for awhile now, especially the long range heavy fighters which feel incredibly broken right now, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some ~real life~ fighter DPS numbers versus typical sub-capital ships, and what the anti-subcap ship of that size can deal out.

So first of all, let’s take some typical Carrier and Super Carrier fits; Starting out with the standard ratting Nidhoggur fit.

[Nidhoggur, Delve Ratting Standard]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Sentient Omnidirectional Tracking Enhancer

Sentient Omnidirectional Tracking Link, Tracking Speed Script
Drone Navigation Computer II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Capital Shield Extender II
Capital Shield Extender II

Fighter Support Unit II
Fighter Support Unit II
Fighter Support Unit II
Networked Sensor Array
Cynosural Field Generator I

Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Templar II x9
Templar II x9
Templar II x9

 

Nidhoggur1

This Nidhoggur fit is something I personally ratted in for about a year while I was in KarmaFleet in Goonswarm. It deals just shy of 1.8k DPS sustained with turret attacks on the fighters, and 2931 DPS when you take into account the limited missile abilities. I used to have Imperial Navy DDAs on my Nidhoggur, at the time they were 100m each, however Navy DDAs have risen in price to close to 200m each, so I decided to use T2 instead for the fit here for demonstration purposes, as it’s more realistic and more conservative.

When using the MWD ability. The fighters travel at 14.8km/s so are completely unavoidable and go just shy of 300km in one MWD cycle, so you pressure entire grids easily. They also travel at over 2.5km/s with no MWD ability, so still faster than most nano cruisers in the game without snakes/links making them incredibly difficult to kite even when the ability is on cooldown.

These light fighter turret attacks have an explosion radius of 122m and a explosion velocity of 126m/sec. To put that into context, A max skilled heavy missile being shot by a player has a explosion radius of 105m and an explosion velocity of 122m/sec. So light fighter turret attacks are very similar to navy HML application, being about 15% worse.

A Caracal with 5x Heavy Missile launchers and 3 BCU IIs has a DPS of 299. This Nidhoggur as mentioned has a DPS of 1777. So a Nidhoggur is essentially doing the DPS of 6 max skilled T2 fit triple damage mod HML Caracals with just the non-limited turret attack alone against cruiser targets, that’s incredibly powerful! And the problem: Fighters are currently the best anti-subcap weapon in the game by a large margin.

Let’s move over to see how well they actually apply to actual targets.

Starting with Frigates. I’m going to use the standard roaming Imperial Navy Slicer as an example target. I think it’s very fair, It doesn’t get a sig reduction bonus like the Retribution or Interceptors. It does however, not use any defensive rigs (Both Armor and Shield either slow you down or increase sig so improve fighter damage), nor does it have a plate or extender. In Practice most frigates would take a lot more damage than the Slicer does from fighters, I’m also fielding 2 nano-fibres, so it’s going to be faster than most brawling frigates and therefore mitigating more damage. The Slicer is also just naturally faster than most frigates and has a low base signature.

[Imperial Navy Slicer, Imperial Navy Slicer fit]

Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Warp Disruptor II

Small Focused Beam Laser II
[Empty High slot]
Small Focused Beam Laser II

Small Energy Locus Coordinator II
Small Energy Locus Coordinator II
Small Energy Locus Coordinator I

The important stats are here;
It goes 3786m/s with a signature radius of 228. How much DPS will our Nid being doing to this slicer?

384 DPS.

This is more DPS than if the Slicer was sitting on top of a 2x Magstab Neutron Blaster Daredevil with void loaded BTW!

So; Against a completely untackled, relatively fast and light frigate, it is out DPSing the highest damage close range brawling ships in the size bracket. A Daredevil can be kited outside it’s measly 2km optimal range on void. You can’t kite 15km/s fighters.

Let’s take a look at a brawling Merlin fit to see how much it takes from a Nidhoggur. Remember, I am just using the turret attacks in all of these examples, I am not using the missile attacks would result in even more DPS!

A Merlin with; A T2 MSE, 3x Shield rigs, and a MWD has a signature radius of 300 with a speed of 2838m/s

Our completely untackled Merlin is taking 552 DPS! That’s more than a Rapid Light Caracal with 3x T2 BCU and T2 Fury and heat does on paper! Remember that the Merlin is fighting up close so it’s probably going to webbed, taking even more damage from the fighters. Our Merlin is actually, unironically, better off sitting on top of a CODE. Ganking Catalyst than it is with Nidhoggur fighters using only the turret attacks on it.

Well maybe it’s just frigates that have it rough! Let’s move on to an Example cruiser. To keep things relatively consistent, I’ll use the Omen Navy Issue as an example cruiser. Just like the Slicer, it doesn’t rely on buffer tanking modules that will make it take more damage from fighters, nor does it use rigs that slow it down or increase it’s sig. It’s also one of the fastest cruisers in the game and has a relatively low signature radius for a Cruiser, it’s also using 2 nanos.

 

[Omen Navy Issue, Standard Roam MedInj]

Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Medium Ancillary Armor Repairer
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II

50MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive
Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 800
Warp Disruptor II

Heavy Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Heavy Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Small Energy Neutralizer II
Heavy Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Heavy Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Medium Energy Locus Coordinator II
Medium Energy Locus Coordinator II
Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Hornet EC-300 x5
Warrior II x5

Base Speed: 2738
Sig: 550

You guessed it! 838 DPS! Again, just like how the Slicer is better off sitting on top of a gank fit Daredevil. Our Omen Navy Issue would also be better off sitting on top of a triple Magstab Void M Neutron Vigilant rather than taking damage from ratting Nidhoggur fighters only using the turret ability while completely untackled at max speed.

Let’s take a look at something Beefier. Like a Brawling Moa.

[Moa, Moa fit]

IFFA Compact Damage Control
Co-Processor II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster
50MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Faint Epsilon Scoped Warp Scrambler
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Heavy Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Acolyte II x3
Standard Blue Pill Booster
Null M x2000
Void M x2000
Navy Cap Booster 400 x27
Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M x2000
Nanite Repair Paste x50

Base Speed: 1560
Signature: 882

Oh how this Moa would love to sit on top of a Vigilant! This Moa would also rather sit on top of a max gank V I N D I C A T O R! than have fighters on it. It takes close to max damage from the Nidhoggurs raw output.

Same Moa, just with MWD off. 1760 DPS taken!!! without using the missile ability at all. Yeah it takes more damage with it off. (Like with all the other ships I’ve already posted in these examples). I just wanted to show off the fact that the MWD on numbers are actually more favourable, and I’m not using them to strengthen my argument. Untackled Moa without MWD running is only about 20 DPS away from taking max damage from the Nidhoggur btw. The Moa I posted doesn’t even have a shield extender and literally only has 3 shield rigs increasing it’s sig.

If the Nidhoggur actually used his missile abilities on it. The Moa, while completely untackled would take more damage per second than if he was sitting on top of a max skilled T2 Disintergrator 2x Entropic Heatsink Leshak at max ramp… Or a Polarized Vindicator.

Yikes. I think this shows that Light Fighters are outperforming Anti-Subcap Subcap roles (That’s a mouthful to say) easily by a factor of 4-5x. It would take 5 Anti-Support HACs to be able to actually out-damage a Nidhoggur versus a completely untackled Moa with 3 shield rigs fit.

Buckle in, We’ve just scrapped the tip of the Iceberg. Super Size me.

 

[Hel, Standard Ratter]

Sentient Damage Control
Sentient Drone Damage Amplifier
Sentient Drone Damage Amplifier
Sentient Drone Damage Amplifier
Sentient Drone Damage Amplifier

CONCORD Capital Shield Extender
CONCORD Capital Shield Extender
Pithum A-Type Adaptive Invulnerability Field
Pithum A-Type Adaptive Invulnerability Field
Sentient Omnidirectional Tracking Link
Sentient Omnidirectional Tracking Link
Gist X-Type 500MN Microwarpdrive

Networked Sensor Array
Syndicate Cloaking Device
Cynosural Field Generator I
Fighter Support Unit II
Fighter Support Unit II
Fighter Support Unit II

Capital Core Defense Field Extender II
Capital Core Defense Field Extender II
Capital Core Defense Field Extender II
Ametat II x6
Ametat II x6
Ametat II x6
Templar II x9
Templar II x9

Helbtw

This is pretty much the Standard Ratting Hel. You can forego the CCDFEs if you want for Hyperspatials for more Krab Power versus less buffer tank. I think a Cloak + 500mn MWD for 10s aligns is realistic for safety. 15.5M EHP before links and 78%~ Average resistances give you a huge safety net when dropping under your own capital umbrella. I’m not using implants but obviously a Genolution set for combat, or Nomads/Hyperspatials with a few shield hardwirings would also improve the fit listed.

Our Light Fighters are back, and now much stronger, thanks to moving the 1 enhancer to a Omni now. The Hel naturally has a higher base damage bonus and we’ve upgraded T2 DDAs to Imperial Navy. Even though we’re only using 2 light fighters, thanks to the raw power of the Hel and Faction DDAs, with Turret attacks they are doing 1535 DPS versus the 1777 DPS of the 3 from the Nidhoggur.

They are joined by our new Heavy Fighters! These deal a staggering 4645 DPS with their turret attacks alone.

Our HFs have an explosion radius of 222m and an explosion velocity of 153m/s. For Reference, a Precision Cruise Missile fired from a max skilled player has an almost identical explosion radius of 223m, but with a lower explosion velocity of 124m/s. So our Heavy fighters are out-applying precision cruise missiles, and aren’t too far away from fury Heavy Missiles.

It would take 8! 3x BCU precision cruise Ravens just to out damage the 3 heavy fighters, with worse application. And about 16 of them to outdamage a Hel versus a cruiser sized target.

Let’s go back to our earlier examples, first, the Slicer.

Untackled Slicer takes 616 DPS from a Hel. Better for the slicer to sit on a CODE Catalyst or be shot by a RLML Cerberus.

Merlin Next.

Ouch, Nearly 950 DPS! That’s worse than sitting on top of the max gank Vigilant with drones on you.

Omen Navy Time

1554 DPS – Max Gank Vindicator DPS while completely untackled.

And now… The Moa.

Completely untackled Moa with just 3 shield rigs… yeah… Better to find TWO VINDICATORS than have just Hel turret attack fighters on you.

Same Untackled Moa, this time with his MWD cut off. 3680 DPS. LOL.

What if we use the Light fighter missile attacks too!

Over 4k DPS applied!

Remember that this is literally just a Moa with 3 shield rigs, completely untackled, we’re using a Hel with only 2 Omnis, and no heat on them.

What would happen if we apply just one web to the Moa, from the Cyno that brings in the Hel.

I don’t think any comment I can give will give credence to just how absolutely broken this is. Welcome to 100mn AB/Retributions online, stay for awhile, but not too long… Hopefully.

How broken and oppressive is Light Fighter and Heavy Fighter application: Maths Edition.

Problems in the Capital: FAX and Cyno Balance problems and the death of the escalation chain.

This is going to be somewhat rantish – I have wanted to talk about this for a long time but there is a lot of topics to cover and I need to talk about different things as they come to mind. Capital Balance, Faxes, Proliferation, Cyno balance and the Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor have all been hot topics of discussion recently on eve forums, Reddit and in eve discords. Fighter Balance has been brought up again in the wake of ECM’s re-purposing in tomorrow’s patch, and the proposed limit of 1 capital ancillary shield booster has also awoke similar discussions surrounding the survivability of Rorquals and FAXes.

So let’s start from the top. These are my following observations having followed the now-scrapped FAX balance proposal with great interest. Faxes have two key balance issues right now. The first is the lack of interactivity with sub-capital ships, the second is the power that they bring for lack of cost and skill.

The Issue with Triple Capital Ancillary Shield Booster fits, and with Dual Capital Injector fits (Or Multi Heavy Cap Injector fits) is that Capacitor Warfare is of little or no consequence for Force Auxillarys and Rorquals. This means that the only way to kill a FAX or Rorqual is by bringing enough firepower to break through their active tank. Most ‘Cheap Fit’ Faxes can easily surpass a 30,000 DPS Tank, usually this amounts to about a 1.2 billion ISK loss after insurance. The Average Skirmish HAC (Cerb/Muninn), T3C (Loki) or Bombers, to name the most popular skirmish ships used in offensive roams, deal about 500 DPS. This means that to deal with a dropped FAX, you need over 60 of these skirmish ships in order to destroy one. When you factor in support ships such as logistics, probers, scouts, command bursts, dictors, ceptors, it’s very easy to require close to or over 90-100 people in a fleet in order to destroy one FAX.

Here a few example FAX fits that can almost completely ignore energy warfare options, while tanking over 30,000 DPS when flown optimally, while also keeping a very reasonable budget of less than 2 billion ISK to lose when insured.

[Ninazu, Ninazu fit]

Capital I-a Enduring Armor Repairer
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Reactive Armor Hardener
Capital I-a Enduring Armor Repairer

Thukker Small Cap Battery
Thukker Small Cap Battery
Heavy Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Capital F-RX Compact Capacitor Booster, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Capital F-RX Compact Capacitor Booster, Navy Cap Booster 3200

Triage Module II
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Capital Coaxial Compact Remote Armor Repairer
Armor Command Burst II, Rapid Repair Charge
Armor Command Burst II, Armor Energizing Charge

Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Capital Remote Repair Augmentor I
Inherent Implants ‘Squire’ Power Grid Management EG-603
Armored Command Mindlink
Strong Exile Booster
Agency ‘Hardshell’ TB7 Dose III

[Minokawa, Perma Inject]

Damage Control II
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System
Caldari Navy Power Diagnostic System

Capital Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 3200
Pithum A-Type EM Ward Amplifier
Heavy Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 3200
CONCORD Capital Shield Booster
Pithum A-Type Explosive Deflection Amplifier
Pithum A-Type Thermal Dissipation Amplifier
Capital Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 3200

Shield Command Burst II, Active Shielding Charge
Shield Command Burst II, Shield Harmonizing Charge
Triage Module II
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster
Capital Asymmetric Enduring Remote Shield Booster

Capital Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II
Capital Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II
Capital Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer II

Shield Command Mindlink
Strong Blue Pill Booster
Agency ‘Hardshell’ TB7 Dose III

Using Genolution Implants, and more expensive faction options. It’s possible to increase the capabilities of FAX tanks well into the 50k DPS range when you have a budget of 6-8b. This is why these FAXes are such as a huge issue in wormhole space, in addition to pimping them out, certain wormhole effects like the Wolf-Rayet effect, can push FAX fits into absurd limits. It’s possible to get FAXs that can tank over 120 Cruisers, and with the mass limits on wormholes, bringing such a fleet almost requires a full scale eviction. Remember that we are only taking about breaking one FAX right now.

While old ‘Triage’ Carriers could probably get the equilvilant level of tank, they could also get destroyed and countered by Neuting Bhaalgorns, Legions or swarms of Welp-Canes to name popular options. The current FAXes mostly ignore all energy warfare, whether by using triple CASP fits or injector fits. And this is the main issue with FAXes for small-medium sized groups right now.

A great slew of balance issues we have faced from Structures has been based on CCP’s very generous grandfathering of old systems. Citadels essentially are combining the pros of both the old Outposts and POS’s. CCP has generally been very cautious and making sure that if you could do something in the old system you can continue in the new system with the same, if not with more advantages, as to not disrupt anyone – FAXes are no different here, the current FAXes we know are just as powerful as an old Triage Carrier – if it was properly managed with correct refitting, but now without all the skill, nuance and preparation that combat refitting once had. The result is that an Apostle or Minokawa alt is now expected, and often required for nullsec and lowsec capital groups.

The issue that bigger groups have with FAXes are generally how effective they are at saving more critical assets such as Titans or Supers. FAXes provide so much power for little cost, and with the current mineral proliferation we have from Rorquals, they can be produced en-mass easily. Just one FAX can neutralise as many as 8 Dreads from a Dread-bomb shooting at a resist fit Super or Titan. A Damnation linked Guardian with 4 large meta armor repairers, repairs 381 HP per second. The Minokawa I linked with 3 Meta Capital Remote Shield Boosters and it’s own links, not stronger CS links, reps 6773 HP per second. This is close to 18x as much, so each cheap FAX, generally speaking, is going to provide as much repping power, if not more using CONCORD reps and more expensive fits – Than 18 Logistic Cruisers!

Even with 2 reps fit, we’re still looking at about 12 T2 Logistic Cruisers repped per FAX. About 5 Dreads neutralised.

Because of this fact, Null groups use what they refer to as ‘Suicide’ FAXes. Generally these are well fit buffer tanked FAXes with the capital emergency damage control. Because FAXes are so powerful, they must be killed first in any capital engagement, so these ‘suicide’ FAXes plan to stay alive and waste as much time as possible in a big fleet fight. Once you lose your FAXes, and the otherside still has FAXes, there is little you can do, so obviously, and rightfully groups decide to deagress, decommit and evacuate once the initial FAX trade has taken place or has generally been decided. This frustrates a lot of null players as often you’ll kill a few dozen suicide FAXes while the ‘real’ assets, the Super-Carriers and Titans escape.

[Minokawa, GoonWaffe’s Minokawa]
Capital Emergency Hull Energizer I
Reactor Control Unit II
Reactor Control Unit II
Reactor Control Unit II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Capital Capacitor Booster II
Capital Shield Extender II
Pith X-Type EM Ward Field
Pith X-Type Thermal Dissipation Field
Capital Capacitor Booster II,Cap Booster 3200

Capital Remote Capacitor Transmitter II
Capital Remote Shield Booster II
Capital Remote Shield Booster II
Cynosural Field Generator I
Large YF-12a Smartbomb
Triage Module II

Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I
Capital Core Defense Field Extender I

Warrior I x15
Heavy Hull Maintenance Bot II x5
Hornet EC-300 x5
Heavy Armor Maintenance Bot II x5

An Example fit from GoonSwarm.

This is mostly a consequence of there being no way to interact with triage remote reps. While Guardians/Basilisks can be disrupted using command destroyers, ECM, Damps among a few other tactics. FAX Machines are immune to all of these. There is currently no limit to the scaling of Remote Repair, and no form of Anti-RR/Anti-Healing Debuff that are present in other MMOs or Genres such as Mortal Strike from World of Warcraft, or Ignite from League of Legends.

I think a good point to think about would be insurance on FAXes and Capitals in general. Right now they are classified as Tech 1, in the same way as a ship such as the Megathron is. This means that you get about 70% of the cost back in insurance, and using nullsec industry you honestly can get pretty close to 100% of the cost back. It wasn’t too long ago that GoonSwarm was self destructing Charons to get ISK from mineral stockpiles. This makes FAXes easily replaceable, an Insured FAX hull is only going to be about a 250-300m isk loss before the fitting is added at present, which is cheaper than some HAC hulls.

Now onto Rorquals, Rorquals can essentially get the same, if not slightly more tank than a FAX machine can. Using a very similar fitting strategy to the FAXes I linked at the top of this article, one can make a Rorqual fit which ignores almost all energy warfare that requires over 80 skirmish ships (Realistically about 110 man fleet) in order to destroy. What this essentially means, is that any Rorqual pilot who has a good fit, skills, plays optimally and is not what is known as a ‘spodbrain’ is almost immune to any kind of roaming gang. He requires an enemy fleet of cruisers or stealth bombers approaching the triple digits in order to actually die. He also has tools such as the 7.5 minute invulnerability and refresh from the PANIC, 1.2k DPS of drones, neuts/smartbombs/RR and Links.

Obviously not everyone plays optimally, however the game should obviously be balanced as everyone is.

Because of the Critical mass needed to kill a single optimal Rorqual or FAX. It has dampened a lot of the tasks and targets that Junior FCs and small roaming gangs could kill. It is currently the norm to fit a Cynosural Field onto any ratting Carrier or Super, Rorquals, or any sub-capital ship that can spare the high slot, such as Rattlesnakes and Ishtars. Because an optimal FAX as mentioned, usually requires over a 60 man gang to kill it, or the target of it’s RR, it means that when we are talking about optimal players – Players on comms, in fleet, with a cyno. They are near immune to the typical ‘skirmish gang’ ‘drunk roam’ or ‘small gang roam’.

We’ve seen hulk fleets become Rorqual fleets, on Athanors or Tataras, Ratting battleships are now Ratting Carriers which can be permanently aligned, with 1.3million EHP and a cyno to teleport a 60k DPS tank in if it does get caught. Tethering took away station camping, and a ratting Nidhoggur applies more DPS to frigates than a daredevil does, more DPS to cruisers than a Vigilant does, and more DPS to Battleships than a Vindicator does, 12km/s Einherjis cannot be kited, and a 1.3million EHP ship with great resists can easily be saved if defanged.

This has sparked talk about the Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor, as mentioned in the minutes and brought up by me. As you more or less need one to kill a player in fleet who is within 7LY of that alliances staging. Cyno Inhibs are underwhelming in many ways, they take 2 minutes to online, they take up 300m3 so it’s near impossible to put them in your scouting ships, ceptors or dictors who are going to be first on the field to trigger the defensive cyno in the first place, they are very costly at 50m a piece to badly-counter a 2m module fit on almost every ship, their HP layout, which was designed to not be immortal under FAX reps, of 10k shield, 10k armor and 150k Hull, means that they can actually just be killed by a solo ratting super through infinite amounts of reps. Ultimately, having thought about it, I think the problem stems more from how powerful of a defensive tool the cynosural field actually is. There is almost no downsides to losing a highslot and an inconsequential amount of fitting for anything that is bigger than a frigate, for the ability to have mass amount of capital ships teleport to you.

Any change or solution to the cynosural field in my opinion needs to accomplish a couple of things, firstly, you don’t want to impact move ops. Secondly, you don’t want to impact hunting much either. None of these suggested changes would apply to Covert Cynosural Fields.

1. Add a ‘spool up’ timer to Cynosural Fields, with no spool up for bonused ships such as Force Recons, T3Cs or Covert Ops, potentially HICs too if it’s felt needed for super hunting. Suggested time of 1-2 minutes. This would make defensive cynos take longer, meaning more time to kill a target caught out of position before he can get capital help, this would generally mean that ships like ratting carriers, Ishtars and Rattlesnakes would die to 10 man gangs that manage to tackle them. This wouldn’t really impact move ops much, as big alliances can easily just use a Force Recon or T3C to instalight cynos, and a 2 minute wait isn’t a big deal on large move op and can be prepared beforehand, perma staging cynos are unaffected. Since Covert Cynos are unaffected, this doesn’t affect black ops hunting groups, and T3Cs and Force Recons are generally the preferred ship for dropping on people anyway, so wouldn’t hurt offensive uses. The only real downside I see is making it harder to bait with things like Cyno Procurers or things like Cyno Interceptors warping in and instantly lighting a cyno, but I honestly think that might be better for balance.

Or

2.  Add some kind of debuff to Cynos, that affects drone/turret damage and drone mining yield, like -30%. I don’t like this one as much, but it would encourage more risk/reward. Do you take the defensive cyno to bail you out but lose 1/3rd of your mining yield or site clear times. This again, wouldn’t affect move ops, or hunting much at all, and would only really be a downside when used defensively by Rorquals, or PVE ships.

It’s easy to laugh and poke fun at the little guys, but they are a needed part of the ‘escalation chain’. Dangerous small gangs that can’t just be countered lazily by capital ships means Junior FCs in charge of 40 man caracal or hurricane defence fleets again, FAXes that can be neuted means more vibrant doctrines than 100mn AB kiting gangs, or Retributions. We currently have a huge problem with proliferation of bounties and minerals, and I think having the farms and fields actually be farms and fields rather than fortified bunkers that they are now is going to help with that.

Obviously there are still many other problems with capital balance, Super-Carriers in particular are exceptionally good, better than any single dedicated subcapital ship is at being an anti-subcap ship. Long Range fighter bombers easily apply over 1k DPS to any generic cruiser that doesn’t have an oversized afterburner, on top of that, supers have full tackle with Dromis and Sirens, HAW Titans one shot jackdaws at 60km, I don’t want to go too in depth with that right now though as the article is already long enough.

The Current game really feels to me like you have to be part of a large group in order to accomplish anything that isn’t just killing spodbrains and AFK VNIs.

Problems in the Capital: FAX and Cyno Balance problems and the death of the escalation chain.

FW Tiers and Tears. Why FW Missions are outdated and need to go.

Today we will explain the Factional Warfare Tier mechanics in depth, and look at the problems with the existing system, and possible solutions.

On the Warzone Control bar of the FW UI, you’ll see a bar with your friendly faction on the left, and the enemy faction on the right. In this case, it’s for an Amarr pilot. The Warzone Control Bar is increased by Warzone Points, Warzone Points are based on the number of systems that a faction controls, and how many upgrade levels that system has. For example, in the Amarr vs Minmatar warzone, there are 70 systems total. This means that there is a total of 420 points in the warzone (70 from the systems themselves, then 70×5 from the tier points).

Upgrading systems is done by depositing Loyalty points into the faction controlled Infrastructure Hub.

Here you can see an Ihub owned by the Amarr Militia. As you invest more points into the Ihub, you will reach more milestones, up until 200,000 LP invested, which unlocks the highest level of V. You can put more LP into the Plex, up until, 300,000. Which the additional 100,000 serves as a buffer.

The buffer is useful because whenever a plex is captured by the opposing militia, 10% of the Base LP reward from capturing a FW plex is removed from the Ihub. For example, capturing a novice plex in an enemy system would result in 1,000 LP being removed from the Ihub. The amount removed is not based on Tier and is always the base amount.

Additional levels grant addition warzone points which contribute to the overall warzone tier as mentioned, you also gain up to a 50% reduction in broker fees and Industry job costs.

So we’ve mentioned tiers a few times, what exactly does the warzone tier do? Well, it multiplies the reward you get from successfully capturing a plex.

Tier Multiplier
1 0.5x
2 1x
3 1.75x
4 2.5x
5 3.25x

Tier 2 is considered the ‘base’ tier, and will not alter the base payouts of plex, Tier 1 awards half the normal payout, and tier 5 will offer more than 3x the base payout. The problem with the Tier system is it heavily incentives players to join the winning side. As of right now, Minmatar are Tier 5, Amarr are tier 1. That means that a Minmatar player capturing a plex is earning 550% more LP than the Amarr Player, which is a huge amount. While the market obviously corrects itself to a certain extent, as the LP value is decided by players, and larger supplies of LP means lower ISK:LP values, there is no denying that this is a huge disincentive for the losing side.

Tiers are based on a percentage of the overall warzone points. I mentioned earlier that the Amarr vs Minmatar warzone has 70 systems, and a maximum of 420 points. Tier 2 is awarded when you control 20% or more of the warzone points, or 84 points and higher, Tier 3, 40%, Tier 4, 60% and Tier 5 at 80%.

The Tier doesn’t also alter the plex payouts, it also alters mission payouts and kill payouts too.

Speaking of missions, they are the biggest problem in factional warfare right now in my opinion, almost every FW group I talked to agrees. Let’s talk about the missions.

FW Missions are easy to complete missions (Generally speaking), a large percentage of them can easily be blitzed, usually killing a single commander, a few industrials, or a structure, Gorski Car has a good guide for farming them on the Minmatar Side if you want to see how ridiculously easy they are to complete. The Game Design of them made sense when they were created, they are easy to complete but have you travel into the enemy side of the warzone, the purpose of them was to have a player be able to complete them in a PVP ship and have that ship travel throughout the warzone in order to generate content. Unfortunately, the missions are very dated, have been completely figured out and are usually run by ships which minimise any risk whatsoever in travelling, while usually clearing them in a few minutes each, minimising exposure. Stealth Bombers, Cloaking ships like the Stratios or <2s align time Sniper Hecate/Jackdaws can complete these sites, which having almost no risk whatsoever in their use.

Missions are taken in stacks, you pull 9-10 missions at a time, using multiple FW characters to pick up missions that are suitable for blitzing, you then use those characters in fast warping ships like travel ceptors to spawn the missions, once warped to, FW missions act in a similar way to FW Plexes where they become public beacons that appear on the overview for everyone. The Mission Farmer then uses his main characters in Bombers/Jackdaws/Hecates or whatever incredibly low risk farming ship to complete the missions, The mission farmer is further circumventing more FW PVP too by using characters that aren’t even in FW so that you must take a suspect timer to engage him, and to get around the risk of travelling through hostile FW faction space and the station lockouts. There is even a Minmatar Farmer right now who runs the missions on Amarr characters so Amarr FW PVPers can’t even engage him without taking standing losses and risk being kicked from FW themselves.

Another problem with the missions is the fact that the NPCs in them will often swap to friendly militia players or gankers attempting to kill the farmers. Making it even more difficult to kill them even if they are somehow caught with all the risk minimisation they already have.

Missions also reward absurd payouts, A level 4 FW Missions pays out about the same as capturing a Large Plex does, however, a L4 FW mission can be completed in under 3 minutes easily, while chaining multiples together, a Large Plex takes over 20 minutes to capture, can be interrupted by and rolled back by opposing FW characters, and requires an in FW character to complete. Making them far more risky.

Training a pulling alt for missions is also incredibly easy once you already have access to the FW Missions. FW Missions award very high standing boosts to the militia corp when handed in, so by sharing the mission awards with your alts, you can boost them up quickly, and every 1.00 interval with FW corps, you will get promoted, causing a large faction standings boost. This allows you to chain decline a lot of the non-blitz-able missions.

The biggest reason why the missions are hated by FW groups is the fact that they just don’t interact with the warzone at all, are often simply exploited by outside groups which have puller alts that have never fired a shot in the warzone, and never will. Because Missions are so much more efficient at earning LP than plexing directly, they dilute the value of the LP earned by those who earn it through PVP. Picture this, You join the Amarr Militia at Tier 1, despite the 6.5x lower payouts!! You fight and successfully push the Amarr Militia to Tier 3 despite all odds, you’ve taken back your sides space. Your reward? All the LP you’ve earned plummets in value as mission runners who don’t interact at all and were on the other-side until now flip and crash the market.

I’ve even seen treaty’s proposed by FW corps where they agree to not take/defend each-others mission stations…

Missions are by far the biggest problem in FW right now. The ‘value’ of PVP would rise and it would be more attractive if FW missions were not diluting the value of LP through sheer demand, which would hopefully cause more players to take part in PVP in FW in the plexes, and those already doing it can hopefully keep doing it without having to earn ISK through alternative methods, more PVP for all is good. I hope this demonstrates just how bad the missions are for FW, the only value in them is the slight importance they have on some FW systems when attempting to attack.

Now that we’ve berated missions, let’s go back to the Tier system, right now it completely discourages loyalty. 6.5x more payouts by flipping sides is an enormous difference. I also don’t like the fact that Tier 1 feels more like a punishment and further discourages joining that side. Instead. I would like to see a system similar to the project discovery rank system for Players and Corps in FW.

The goals of the Tier System when CCP introduced it was to make the warzone feel more like a huge conflict rather than a small set of skirmishes which simply change systems every once in awhile, I completely understand that, and it does fulfil that purpose, however, the current system does not reward loyalty to a faction at all. For a healthy and interesting warzone, both sides need to at least feel balanced and you want the possibility of a comeback to be on the cards, you want to generate stories and conflicts that span a long time, you want groups and players to stay put. The AvsM warzone is the perfect example of why the current system completely discourages healthy consistent action. Whenever either side hits Tier 5, you can correlate this to about a 30-40% drop in kills in the war-zone on zkillboard.com – this is because fresh blood is completely discouraged from joining the losing faction, why join the uphill fight where you’ll be earning anywhere from 4.5-6.5x less reward for the same effort, you’ll be Oplexing vs Venture Dplexing, and fighting not only your enemies but hordes of farmers which will come out in droves to Dplex highly contested systems for easy LP.

Not only that, but once one side hits tier 5, there is far less locations to Oplex, this might concentrate fighting if there is a last stand happening, such as what is happening in Sahtogas at the moment. But generally, The Tier 1 Side has less players to shoot. Tier 5 players are encouraged to abuse the risk free missions and accumulate LP  for a big payout instead of being in Plexes where they can be more freely engaged. So Less PVP is happening, the PVP is focused more in big fleet fights which the losing side is less likely to be able to achieve victory in. The Tier 5 players get bored due to winning and not encountering new resistance, and simply farm missions and then stop playing.

This is why I would like to see the Tier System nerfed, and instead, add a new FW Rank system for players and corporations which effects payouts. Here is an example of a system that I would like to see.

The rank system would be simple. you can level up from 1 to 999. Just like project discovery, long term FW players can brag about their rank. The rank should be per faction. So swapping to another FW faction, for example, leaving caldari and joining gallente, you would have to start from rank 1 again to encourage loyalty. Have the first levels from 1 to 75 increase your LP payouts from 1 to 75%. And you level up by capturing plexes or getting kills on the enemy FW faction (With the kill value being used to determine how much experience you get like the bounty system so it cannot be abused). And have some special BPCs (like 1 run FW frig/cruiser/BC/BS BPCs) and similar faction themed rewards at milestones and to give a reason to level beyond 75 without increasing the LP payout %.

Corps should also have a corp rank, maybe 1-25 for LP rewards. and being able to achieve 999 for ultimate bragging rights. With ranking up done in a similar way, just needing more experience so a group of players would need to level up. with 1-25% bonus to LP Payouts. I would like to see this corp rank because it would give an immediate benefit to joining a corp rather than staying in the NPC FW corps. I.e. Join my FW corp we are rank 20 so you get 20% more LP! would be a good selling point, and would also encourage corps to stay in the same faction rather than hopping. Players who join corps are way more likely to stick around, and this would be a good carrot for people to get involved into established FW groups.

Tier 1 should become the base, no penalty, with Tier 2 offering 12.5% more LP, up until 50% more at tier 5.

The Max LP would be similar to now. Tier 5 + Corp Rank 25 or higher + Player Rank 75 or higher would be a 1 x 1.25 x 1.5 x 1.75 multiplier, or  3.28x total (As opposed to 3.25x now). But it would require a player who has taken part in the warzone through PVP and plexing. This would nerf mission pulling alts that never take part in PVP a lot, reward long term players, and give a reason to stay in a losing faction.

A player who takes part a lot in the warzone in a well established corp, but the faction is losing and is Tier 1 would get 1.75 x 1.25 = 2.18x payouts, which would be between current Tier 3-4. Making it way more worthwhile to stay put where you are. Joining the winning faction but changing to a different faction rank would only be a 1.5x payout multiplier.

TL;DR Delete Missions, maybe change the Tier system.

FW Tiers and Tears. Why FW Missions are outdated and need to go.

Are ‘Timer Rollbacks’ really the solution for Factional Warfare?

This is an idea that has been suggested several times over the years, the main gist of the complaint/suggestion is to be able to combat farmers and players who want to contest/decontest systems or gain LP from plexing while avoiding combat with other players. The proposed mechanic would mean that instead of progress being halted while a militia player is not inside the plex, that it would instead roll back towards a neutral position. This would mean that one PVP player could stop farmers from taking a system. What commonly happens (mostly in defensively plexing) is that if a farmer is interrupted in the large plex for example, he simply goes to the medium or another plex, and the PVP player has to constantly chase and trade time 1:1 with the farmer and cannot undo his progress. This would allow PVP players to combat these farmers easier and perhaps provide more ‘ante’ to fight for the FW site.

Timer Rollbacks is also a feature that has been pushed by CSM Candidates in the past, as well as something that CCP has said they would like to do.

The main concerns with this proposal are that it would allow neutrals/pirates and non FW players to influence the war zone indirectly. I.e. Caldari own Tama, but they do not live there or even control the plexes, so Gallente are trying to take it, but Pirate groups are preventing the gallente from taking it by constantly rolling back timers despite the fact that the Caldari are non-existent in the system. It is also worth mentioning that this would be a much bigger buff for defenders, and that might be a bad thing considering the advantages the defenders already have, and could cause more stagnation in the warzone.

Warzones already stagnate when one Militia achieves dominance, see the Gallente vs Caldari Warzone recently when the Caldari achieved T5. Since Farmers, players who are only interested in making ISK, or just players who have not tried FW yet are highly incentivised to join the winning faction, it’s already an uphill struggle for a losing militia to make a comeback. Timer Rollbacks would probably result in this being even more difficult to achieve.

I think there is already an argument for progress already made on a plex might also be a driving force for someone to come back to a plex too. I.e. a player has put 10 minutes of the 15 minutes progress into the small when he’s killed or interrupted by pirates. Does he go back to that plex with a new ship/reship to deal with the pirates or hope they’ve left with the knowledge that he’s already got 10 minutes of work into it as an incentive?

This is Anecdotal evidence but I’ve had several great repeat fights with players probably because of the progress already invested on a Plex. If I kill someone in a Plex, or I’m killed. I can go back to that plex in a more suitable ship with the knowledge that I’m either going to get a rematch and a fight waiting for me, or a plex that’s already closer to being captured providing me with ISK. In a world with timer rollbacks, there is no need for an enemy FW player to stay in the Plex that he just killed me in if he cares about the system, there is also less incentive for me to go back there, assuming the player that just killed me has moved on, I’m going back to a plex that has probably reset and there’s no advantage to be in that plex as opposed to another one closer to me if I only care about ISK, likewise, the player who killed me will be less incentive to stick around with the lower driving forces for me to return. This will result in less ‘repeat fights’ and less struggles over plexes, especially from neutrals.

Alternatively, I also believe that many players asking for timer rollbacks generally do not think about ‘valid’ reasons for leaving a Plex, and how timer rollbacks will pressure people into flying more expensive ships, and higher end ships ‘best in plex’ style ships. For example, if I’m flying a Kestrel in a novice plex, and a Worm is on the outside and comes into a plex. I will have to leave as it’s impossible to fight a Worm in a Kestrel, this is obvious and expected. However, with timer rollbacks, I’m punished and lose progress for “running” from a fight I have almost no chance of winning. This makes it much harder for low SP, Low ISK players from advancing in FW. As anytime you have to leave a plex, even if it’s a valid reason, stalls out your progress. Alternatively, I’d probably leave from some ships like the Griffin Navy Issue even though I would fight almost everything that wasn’t pirate faction in my Kestrel. And I’d be worried that players in FW and pirates would trend even more towards higher end ships.

FW already has somewhat of a high barrier to entry in order to realistically fight back in a plex. For example, in Novices, the ‘average’ FW player is flying a faction navy frigate. Ships like the Comet and Firetail are usually more common than say Rifter or Incursus. You can usually expect most FW players to be experienced in the ship they are flying, with most relevant skills to level 5, and flying a well optimized fit for winning 1v1 fights, as well are most likely skilled in flying it too. Most new players in FW flying Tech 1 frigates already have to run from the average fight or be destroyed in the majority of cases. I’d hate for the new guy flying a Condor to be punished heavily because he chose to run from a Garmur, and this slows down his progress and isk generation, slowing him down from getting to a point where he can realistically fight back and provide content and the fights people want to players in the warzone.

In short, I’m actually somewhat opposed to timer rollbacks. While it would hurt farmers, it also hurts anyone who is legitimately looking for a good fight from new players and people flying more engageable and lower entry ships, and will probably push a warzone where the default already is all level 5 navy frigates into pirate ships + implants. It wasn’t too long ago that an Off Grid Booster was almost required in order to PVP in FW, (Or at least run from the OGB users). And I fear that timer rollbacks would result in the same upward pressure.

Alternatively, roaming blobs become more powerful as they don’t even have to sit in the plex, just push someone out and then move on to the next system. Costing someone 2+ minutes off the timer each time they force a player out of a plex. Essentially, timer rollbacks reward the more powerful players and groups more. This could be a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint.

Instead, I think maybe there is a discussion around defensive plexing being possible in unfitted or throwaway ships without much commitment, and readjusting victory points to make them more normalised for time. Right now, Novices are the best plex since they are worth the same as a large plex, but since you can capture a novice in half the time, and with a significantly cheaper ship, they are much more attractive for farmers who want to control the system without commiting to a fight.

I’d be really interested in hearing from FW players about discussing the merits/demerits of timer rollbacks and alternative systems.

Are ‘Timer Rollbacks’ really the solution for Factional Warfare?

Factional Warfare Capture Mechanics

I wanted to write an article discussing the merits and demerits of ‘timer rollbacks’, however, the more I wrote the more I think I really need to lay out the mechanics in depth of how systems are captured currently.

How do you flip a system in factional warfare? Let me explain.

The first concept to understand is ‘Victory Points’. Whenever *any* FW plex is captured or defended, 20 Victory points is added or removed from the systems contested status respectively. When a system has reached 3000 Victory Points, the Ihub will become vulnerable. It is possible to increase a system’s victory points above 3000, doing so is advantageous and often called ‘buffer plexes or buffer plexing’, if the system drops below 3000 Victory Points, even while the Ihub is being assaulted it will go back to invulnerable. It is not possible to drop a system below 0 victory points.

You can see the current victory points of all systems in eve by using the ESI link  alternatively for the less technical minded, Dotlan has great victory point graphs that you can use to view the progress of a system, scrolling down to the bottom will display 2 graphs. In the game itself it does not display victory points, it only uses a % readout. Each Plex is worth 0.66% on this, with the game rounding up.

The Ihub itself has 7.5 million Shield and 7.5 million Armor hitpoints, both of which need to be depleted to 0 for the system to fall, it will from then on be ‘lost’ and flip to the opposing faction the next downtime, no further progress can made on the system until it flips at downtime. When a system flips, it will set at 0 victory points and stable for the militia that captured it. The Ihub has 0% resists.

 

3000 Victory points at 20 VP per plex means that 150 plexes will need to be captured at minimum to take a system from stable to vulnerable, We already went over how all plexes are worth the same victory points, this is true regardless of size or regardless of the type of plex.

Each system in Factional Warfare space contains a Novice, Small, Medium and Large Outpost, these plexes should always be present in the system, unless they have been captured, in which case, they will respawn 30 minutes after they were last captured. These plexes I refer to as ‘static’ plexes. In addition to these, there may be extra plexes present, which I refer to as ‘Dynamic’ Plexes, these plexes are not guaranteed in system, and will respawn elsewhere in the warzone when they are captured, the name of these plexes are Installation, Facility, Stronghold and Compound of various sizes. There is absolutely no difference between these plexes even though they have different names. A Novice Outpost is identical in VP and timer and rats to a Novice Facility and for every type of plex.

Size Ships Allowed Time to Capture DPS to break rat DPS to break rat in ‘comfortable’ time
Novice T1, Navy and Pirate Frigates 10 minutes 50+ 100
Small T1+T2 Destroyer Hulls, All Frigate hulls 15 minutes 100+ 200
Medium T1+T2 Cruiser Hulls, All Frigates and Destroyers 20 minutes 200+ 400
Large All Ships, Ungated 20 minutes 400+ 800

When Defensive Plexing (If your faction owns the system) you will not need to kill the rat. The rat does inconsequential amounts of DPS, it’s only purpose is to act as a DPS check, it’s main function is to force you to bring bigger ships to bigger plexes if you’re the offensive faction in the system.

It should be noted that the rats in the plexes have omni resists so it doesn’t matter what damage type you deal to them, you should always use the most damaging ammo (i.e. kinetic on hookbill etc.). All Rats have 60% to all resists on their primary tank, and 40% to all on secondary, with 0% structure resists. Therefore Minmatar and Caldari rats have 60% shield, 40% armor and 0% structure resists, and vice versa for Gallente and Amarr.

All plexes contribute the same to system contested level, despite the fact that the novice is both easier and faster to capture than other plexes. The novice is therefore the most valuable plex to control in an assault. It’s worth noting that at downtime, any existing plexes that are open are set back to the neutral position, so it’s not worth starting to capture a plex if you won’t finish it before downtime. At downtime ALL outposts respawn, even if they had been captured just before downtime, and the server comes back up before they would have respawned.

Assuming that you have total control of a system and multiple pilots who can capture multiple plexes simultaneously, how fast can a group contest a system from 0% to 100%? Assuming that there are no dynamic plexes in system or spawn in the system during the assault, and that there is a 5 minute buffer for killing rats, warping, noticing new plex etc.

Novices take 10+5 Minutes to capture, and then respawn in 30 minutes. Assuming that the server comes back up at 11:30 to be conservative. We can therefore capture 31 novice plexes per day. Or 620 victory points total from novices, or 20.6% contested per day in just novice plexes. Here are the values for the other plex types.

Plex Max Capturable Per day System %
Novice 31 20.6%~
Small 28 18.6%~
Medium 25 16.6%~
Large 25 16.6%~
Total 109 72.6%~

As you can see, while all plexes are valuable to contributing to the warzone, the novice is the most advantageous to control, since it represents about 25% more victory points over time than the medium or large plex.

I hope this is useful in explaining and outlining the FW capture mechanics.

 

Factional Warfare Capture Mechanics