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.

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

6 thoughts on “Are ‘Timer Rollbacks’ really the solution for Factional Warfare?

  1. Andre Vauban says:

    I think the biggest missing piece is that timer rollbacks don’t start unless an enemy faction enters the plex. If a neutral forces you to leave, then there is no timer rollback. The rollback to neutral only starts when the opposing faction starts running the timer.

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  2. 0000 says:

    neutrals being able to influence the warzone shouldn’t be a ‘concern’ as in bad. currently they get completely ignored when FW play progresses anywhere higher than goodfights, it’s silly and bad. it’s triggering to be a non-militia lowsec pvper and get no consideration in talks about FW changes

    and I don’t think you fix worms or hull tanking scram kiters by making them unable to more quickly undo your progress in farming a plex

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  3. Thane says:

    I’m definitely biased, but I don’t see an issue with nuetrals having influence on the war zone.

    My thoughts on balancing roll backs are:

    – opposing militia should roll back a Plex at double speed (5m to erase 10m of progress)
    – neuts roll back Plex at regular speed (10m to erase 10m of progress)
    – unoccupied Plex decays at half or even quarter speed

    That way if a pirate worm wants to influence things he has to sit there like anyone else but it also insentivizes FW pilots to not just leave system and come back later.

    Other concepts that could aid in balancing the system could include: adding a lag so that the rollback doesn’t start for a minute or two (allowing refit or a call to allies), and playing with the capture time for o-vs-d plexing and dominant vs non-dominant militia.

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    1. Sitting in a plex gives away a lot of information via D-scan – i.e. ship type and depending on local maybe even the pilot. This enables the would be attacker to reship into a superior ship or a hard counter.

      Attempts to force the initial party to stay in the plex via any sort of accelerated rolling back feels like undue punishment AFTER being subjected to undue disadvantage.

      For this reason I am against roll backs and also any sort of mechanic meant to try and force a pilot to stay.

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