You can’t fire me I quit! [Drops mic]

Oh fresh, sweet air of freedom.

I resigned from all alliance leadership last night, in what was a tough decision but also turned out to be a huge relief for me. Frankly, I was a bit of a relic of previous times, increasingly at odds with the current direction of the alliance, so I’ll skip the e/n details (moderate betrayal, some scenes of backstabbing unsuitable for younger children) and just say that I hope to get to join (and even badly FC) more Bat Country roams again.

I debated not even posting about this – it is hardly huge news beyond corp chat since pretty much all I did in alliance leadership recently was to say “I think that’s a bad idea” and be tolerated in my dissent.

I’m not quitting the CSM (I got nominated by alliance leadership but elected by a huge range of people inside and outside of the Imperium) nor Eve and certainly not Bat Country.  I intend to stay committed and active and to keep interacting with the community.

I also don’t intend to get into a bunch of he said she said stuff about what went wrong.  I’m still a filthy, freeborn goon and have huge numbers of friends in the alliance.

Dammit, since I have your attention, here is some of the Stuff I Did. This post is about me so I get to do this introspective boasting shit, even if it is alien to every bone in my Scottish body.

  • Got Deklein for Goons. We were homeless, fucked, and about to reset the NC and move to Venal to die, shortly after being unable to get two squads in fleet in Syndicate and losing Cloud Ring to Ev0ke.
  • Served as Chief Diplo whenever VR was burned out, with important successes like the Curse deployment where we went from 15 man fleets to killing alliances: our first post-Delve success and a huge gamble at the time
  • Took over the GIA when it had literally zero agents left and used it to win several whole wars (White Noise/NCdot in particular, Fountain vs Test to a large extent), and ran it for four years
  • Made Bat Country, a tiny corp which at one point had more supers than all but three *alliances* in the CFC, which has created and ran the Ministry of Love, rebuilt the GIA (three directors), has repeatedly came top for participation in wars above every corp in the Imperium (including the last war) and which I believe has the best posters in Eve.
  • Very unpopular this one: nearly stopped the Goons vs Test conflict. These days, Goons hate Test, and Test hates Goons in general and me in particular, but I came within an ace of peace in our time on this one, to be stymied by the staggering misjudgement of some guy called Viktor Villiance or something. Talk about might-have-beens.
  • Cut the resulting war far shorter by running it for the first week while Mittens was away, and stopping the then-Skymarshal (this was before Blawrf) pulling back to a single system in Fountain, which we would have lost at once, and instead using the indefensible outlying systems to buy time using our spy access to hostile command channels (both N3 and Test).
  • Launched the mittani dot com and spent six hours a day for months on end editing awful, unreadable articles into content that won the news wars in Eve, all for free because my friend needed a hand (and I am a sucker)
  • Created European Goonion and put it under the care of a week-old newbie called Dominionix who I thought had what it took. I was told I was stupid.  He’s still there and EG has decided wars
  • I have played the game hard but fair, and have friends across just about every group in Eve.

And so on.

Stuff I came up with that proved influential but which I kinda regret:

  • Participation. I put tables of kills-based corp performance as a fun  competition thing in war updates for the eight or nine tight-knit corps then in the alliance, but then came up with the paplinks idea based on stuff Mynas had done in Mostly Harmless in the old NC. In my defence, I argued against actually doing it, on cultural grounds. It’s a brilliant tool but I think on it not without some regrets.
  • Plex for [whatever] It seems natural now but when we were having difficulty getting FCs, logisticians etc (the best part of five years ago) I suggested that in Bat Country we paid corp FCs a plex for every four fleets per month they advertised that anyone in corp could join. Now everyone in the Imperium gets paid for everything. I never accepted payment though, because I was a weirdo amateur that did stuff out of love of my fellow-goon. Awwww.

Sovereignty should cost more for unused space

Sparked by a discussion with u/HendrinkCollie on Reddit, it occurred to me that the bills for holding sovereignty for systems that are used lightly or not at all should scale rapidly upwards.

So instead of the old system of a flat fee for an iHub, for cyno jammers etc, the cost for each would rise rapidly as an inverse of the system activity indices, making holding sov that one doesn’t use much more expensive. This could only be partially mitigated by the roaming ratting fleets that we see.  In some cases (EC-, HED etc) such underused systems would still be worthwhile for strategic reasons.  In others, far less so.

I don’t suggest this as a replacement for any existing feature, just an additional feature to further open up unused systems to the sort of small stakeholders that we see in places like Cloud Ring. What do people think?

Capital Systems Jump Fatigue and the Fcon goodpost false alert

For much of this evening I was mulling a lengthy and over-complicated post chock-full of mathematics and graphs and symbols explaining how jump fatigue should change and why the square of the hypotenuse of jump distance should equal the log base e of the distance from the starting point.

I had high hopes I could get this baby to twelve thousand words pages and finally give that wordy blowhard James 315 a run for his money. I was fresh from a double triumph on Gevlon’s blog: first slipping a lengthy quotation from Mein Kampf into a comment with the word “Goons” substituted for “The German race”, then getting him to refuse to publish a comment, which meant he couldn’t think of an answer. I knew no boundaries. I had just got my first reddit gold and I was king of the internet.

Then Aryth suggested I read this comment on the eve-o forums:

“Move-Mode for Capitals for move ops (e.g. Transforming into move mode (24 hour process) reduces combat capacity to near 0) ”

I won’t lie to you: I was rocked. Dumbfounded. This was a member of FCon – generally acknowledged to be the worst posters not to need four legs for locomotion – who was in a corporation named after condoms and was posting on a forum whose apparent goal I had always believed to be to check how long it would take infinite poop sprayed at a virtual wall to spell out the complete works of Shakespeare.  But it was genius.  The more I thought about it the better it seemed. I won’t lie to you*: the next thing I did was to check whether the following post started “to be or not to be…”

Fortunately, I quickly worked out that we could stand down the Goonswarm drill for “The Rapture is probably coming and Jesus will most likely arrive any minute now.”  This was simple a case of the Fcon poster not knowing how quoting works on a forum.  The idea belonged to Larrikin.  He is a CCP dev so him having a good idea, while not exactly in line with the general expectation, is at least not an outright sign of the end times.

Imagine that your capital system, and only your capital system, cleared your jump fatigue when you jumped into it.  It wouldn’t help you project power above the couple or three regions CCP said was their target in this week’s roundtable.  But it would let you defend your own space well.  It would let you use that blops to drop on people without worrying that you would miss that night’s capital fleet.

It’s a bonus to sov nullsec and a reason for holding it, which has been a consistent complaint. I imagine that even PL would find themselves gradually moving more and more ships into citadels and stations in a capital somewhere with a wide jump range that hit a couple of bad-player-soloing-nyxes pinch points, and we all know what the inevitable result of that would b, sooner or later: maybe Progodlegend could offer to manage their sov payments for them.

A beleaguered alliance, under attack from all sides, could jump around over a space of hours as nodes came out.

It’s not going to fix everything: doubtless ranges and fatigue caps and more will be on the table.  My own advice has consistently been that if you have a thirty day subscription cycle and a thirty day cap if you mess up your jumps, then people are quickly going to work out the value of not paying you money for long periods.  But it is a brilliant idea that addresses swathes of the game.

To avoid gaming of the system, you would want to make firm rules for the delay between capital moves and the time it takes them to come into effect, but that is the complicated stuff that I pay subs to people like Larrikin to go bald worrying about.  At this rate, we may make an exception and let him and his family put on their hats with eir best corks hanging from them, polish up their alligator-tooth belts, and return to the mother country for a visit: let the whole sheep-stealing episode be bygones, that’s what I say.

*This was, in fact, a lie.  I did not read the next post.  I’m a glutton for punishment but I don’t actively self-harm.

P.S. I wish to say a hearty apology to members of Corps Diplo who will now have to deal with the fallout of me being rude about Fcon members’ ability to post through the medium of interpretative pooping.

People of Reddit, you are being lied to…

As the patron saint of unpopular causes, my subject today is “why I am super-angry about last night’s round-table”. And not for the reasons you might think.

Like Sion, I was a little dubious about the whole event, beforehand: I was worried that, faced with the CSM’s critiques of certain areas, elements of CCP were keen to bodyswerve that and go straight to players. As someone who is on the receiving-end of a huge amount of player feedback, I thought that was fraught with potential problems, and so it proved.

In any case, I arrived home from work near the end of the session, so I sat around and talked to the players who had atttended for a bit over an hour afterwards: a really interesting group mainly from PL, NCdot, Black Legion and Goons (yes, that should ring alarm bells). Then, because I support the Scottish football team and am therefore used to suffering, I listened to the entire two hour session. Twice. If you want to know what that was like, then imagine a giant boot with “USERS IN YOUR CHANNEL IS RECORDING” written on the sole stamping on a human face, forever.

Let me deal with the first thing first. Someone malicious or stupid claimed that Fozzie said “You can have sov or you can have fun”. One of my fellow Goons, notorious shitposter Kcolor, promptly posted this to Reddit in search of easy upvotes. This naturally caused an uproar and whoever sells pitchforks and torches at the base of Castle CCP made an absolute killing. And quite right, too: how much disdain this shows for the playerbase! Something must be done! Who will pay for this outrage?!?

Except that this never happened. My hunt for this shocking expression of disdain led me to listen to the whole two hours for a second time. Not only does Fozzie not say this, but he doesn’t say anything that sounds a bit like it. Not once.

Larrikin – and what whitebread, redneck, small-town cracker can’t tell Australian from American? – does say that people, when choosing where to live in sov null, should think carefully about how much conflict they want before choosing where to live. And he is right: you cannot choose to live in Tenal or Omist, to take the most extreme examples, and then complain that all you get to do is rat. Nor can you move to HED- and then complain people are always shooting at you. But such reasonable and thoughtful statements don’t matter when someone spots the chance to grab some upvotes, so people lied to reddit and a lot of people got very angry about a bunch of devs who were, completely unpaid, choosing to engage with the community.

One other thing: we in the CSM messed up here, not the devs who gave their time to talk to the players, and not the players who came with unrealistic expectations. Us.

We didn’t make it clear enough that this was a session for CCP to listen to the players, and not to make announcements or judge peoples’ game design ideas. We left the devs to have to keep saying that they couldn’t announce how they intended to fix one thing or another, when frankly we should have stepped in and done that instead of leaving them high and dry like that. And on occasion one CSM member seemed to be acting as lawyer for the prosecution, demanding answers of people in the most aggressive terms. You can hear, a couple of times, the intense frustration in the CCP employees’ voices and they were more restrained than I would have been in their responses. But then again, I am Scottish. We covered that bit already.

There were things that I disagreed with, or that I thought were needlessly optimistic and so on, and I intend to blog about that in the next day or two as well, but whoever is to blame for how that panel went, it wasn’t CCP. And the people who told you lies about what happened owe you an apology.

Massacring Sacred Cows: Reforming Logistics and Squads

Note that this piece is wordier than James 315 on a coke-binge after someone asked him “So, James, using as many words as you like, please name your top twenty problems with highsec?  Include examples”  So if you want to skip the diagnosis and the reasoning and the words, just read the bit near the bottom under the heading “The Executive Summary”.

CCP has been focused heavily, for the past few months, on changes to sovereignty and travel.  They have made radical changes, many of which are broadly accepted to be excellent.  On the whole, the game is going in the right direction under CCP Seagull.

As far as I understand it, however, the pending sovereignty changes are not intended explicitly as a lever with which to change the politics of the game: Fozziesov is not aimed at coalitions in general, nor is it aimed at the Imperium or any other specific bloc.  Its approach has had an impact on rental, but so far that has not been to end it, but merely to concentrate it heavily into the Drone Regions.  Whether that remains viable – whether xDeathx has the staying power to defend those vulnerable regions or sufficient incoming money to continuously hire the likes of PL to do it for him – has yet to be seen.

In fact, the new sovereignty mechanics seem to strongly favour larger, denser populations for actual sovereignty defence and capture.  Smaller groups should be far more capable of forcing fights under the new system, which is excellent.  But, ultimately, who wins the strategic objectives will be dictated by broadly the same criteria as current fights.  The tendency under the new sov system will be to return to the position of stagnation on the strategic level: in order to challenge or defend against Imperium attacks, others will simply have to band together.

Logistics in Eve: The Problems

Before I go any further, let me say that I believe Eve is a sandbox: as a result, if one side of a fight wants to bring twice as many people as the other, and the sides are equally skilled, then the one who got there first with the most should be pretty likely to win.  Artificial constraints intended to contrive perverse results are no what the Eve sandbox is about.

The problem at present, however, is that Eve scales horribly efficiently with increasing numbers, and in a way that acts to discourage fights.  And at the heart of that is logistics.

Imaginary Fleet Fight Version 1: Imagine that you and I have brought 200-man fleets to a fight.  They are pretty evenly matched, and have good compositions including 25 logi.  We fight it out, it gets bloody after a warp-in goes wrong and I hold the field with eighty losses.

Imaginary Fleet Fight Version 2: We bring the same fleets to the rematch except that I bring a 220-man fleet, with the extra 20 people in logis.  Uncannily, everything goes exactly the same way as last time, including the bad warp-in: will you never learn? I hold the field and I only take two losses, each of whom forgot to broadcast.

Actual Fleet Fight Version 3: You see that I have a 220-man fleet, including 45 logi.  You stand down because you know you will possibly not kill a single thing.  Your diplos go and form an alliance with the two alliances nearby who you normally have good fights with at the weekends, and they agree because they fear that once I take your space I will come after them.  Now you have a 255-man fleet and a hundred-and-fifty man spillover fleet which is ECM-heavy.  I’m not undocking against that, because my logi might not hold and losing lots of ships in Eve is seen as unacceptable these days so I stand down.  Yet again nobody gets a fight.  My diplos go and blue up Pink Legion and Bi-umvirate and we bring two full fleets to your nearly two fleets, but once we start to fight you realise you cannot break my logi chains and so you evac everyone with minor losses.

And so on.

So what drives the spiralling size of coalitions – and make no mistake, a new huge coalition will have to arise again to challenge the Imperium or Eve is dead – is made up of three things:

1 – The ability of an FC to broadcast a target instantly to 200 people means you must have a huge logistics wing or die in seconds, regardless of player skill.

2 – People will therefore not fight without a huge logistics wing, and good FCs will warp their fleet out if they quickly lose one or two logistics ships, leading to less fights and to more one-sided fights when they do occur.

3 – Bloody fights therefore become less common, not more so: especially the 2008-style slugfests that would see constant fighting (at real-time speed, not in ti-di) for four or five hours or more (for instance Goonswarm vs Stain/Atlas, Esoteria 2008).

Radical, Terrifying Solutions

Imagine if ships died on both sides in fleet fights.  Imagine if your perfect fleet composition was still going to take plenty of losses even if you won handily and you knew that going into the fight.  Imagine if the side that brought a hundred guys night after night to fight my 250 guys killed forty of us each night before they died in a gamble that we would get tired of it before they did?

And imagine that more people mattered in those fights than just the FC and, at a push, the logi anchor.  Imagine that instead of one person in a fleet actually making decisions and calling targets you had ten or twenty people playing as actively as that?  Imagine that you cared about who was in your squad?

To achieve this will require radical solutions: logistics need to be less effective.  But to stop eve turning into finger-of-instadeath massacres where skill matters little, the ability of FCs to broadcast targets to fleets for instant death needs to be mitigated, too. Ultimately, I would love to see the emphasis move from the fleet to the squad, democratising the Eve warfare experience and spreading the responsibility amongst more people: giving more people a meaningful role in fights.

The Executive Summary

Here are my three suggested changes, in increasing order of senior Goonswarm directors spitting their coffee over the screen:

1 – Remote logistics modules should be stacking penalised: the return on each additional rep module activated upon an individual should fall off rapidly in the same way that other projected effects (webs, painters etc) do.  The exact rate of fall-off can be tailored.

2 – Broadcasts should go to members of the same squad as the broadcaster only:  You flinched, eh?  But think through the second-order effects.  This will affect both DPS and repping and will shift the emphasis back to the individual skill of the player having the correct overview setup, having it sorted correctly, and being able to find the called target in the overview rapidly.  It will return us to the days where a target would see himself gradually being yellow- then red-boxed by more and more ships.  To avoid this being worked-around by text channels set up as fake broadcast lists, there would have to be no ability to target someone from right-clicking their name in a text channel.

3 – Squads should be increased in size, perhaps to fifteen or twenty, with a reduction in squads-per-wing at the same time.  If the overall size of a fleet became slightly larger then this would have little downside thanks to the other changes, and NPSI people might like it.

4 – Ideally, inflicted damage would be stacking penalised, too, although far less heavily than logistics so that people still die on both sides of a fight (we want more deaths, not less!)  Note that this does not artificially stop the 500-man pair of fleets from wrecking the 250-man fleet.  What it does do is effectively break the fight up from one of two fleets versus one fleet into a fight of twenty-five twenty-man fleets versus twelve or thirteen twenty-man fleets.  Numbers will tell, but lots of people will die on both sides, and attrition and guerrilla warfare become viable. Note that this can presumably be done within the game mechanics, since we already have a module that does something similar (but even more calculation-intensive) in measuring incoming damage by damage type and altering its resists appropriately.

The result of this would be to move the focus of Eve warfare to squads and wings (four or five people can co-ordinate easily, twenty or more not so much).  This would enable more people, and offer a low-risk path to FCing for a far-broader pyramid or players who can start with ten to twenty people in a big fight.

Perhaps most importantly of all, it would also personalise Eve.  You enjoyed a squad leader in that huge fight last week?  Jump into their squad.  Or maybe you recognise the names of a couple of logi pilots who were in your squad, and who kept you alive until you could align and warp out when red-boxed?  Get into squad with them again.  Maybe you have ten or twelve corpmates that you trust in the same fleet?  Get in squad together: it will matter far more than it does now where being in the same fleet just means chatting in jabber or corp chat about how bad your FC is for getting you pipebombed again.

Bat Country Best Country

One of the reasons I blog so rarely is that I have foolishly allowed myself to get into a mindset where only an article of the sort of length that would qualify for The Atlantic seems worth writing. So, less of that!

For the last few weeks, Goonswarm have been involved in the war in the Southwest of New Eden. At first, we were defending Fountain from the N3 coalition, but we’ve gone over onto the offensive and are currently hitting Delve.

Anyway, this post is not about that. The participation figures for the CFC just came out and my corp, Bat Country, yet again showed that when the Horn of Goondor sounds we drop everything and get our asses to Mars.

The headline is that we’re the top corp in Goonswarm (which will mean in the whole CFC) for supercap and capital participation. Booyah. Our average member went on just shy of fourteen strat ops last month, and that is despite having guests like Doink who go on precisely zero. Our members (229 members, 85 real people) turned up a little under half as often in total as those of Goonwaffe (exactly 3000 members).

All that being said I can’t wait until this whole thing blows over so we can get back to flying cruiser hulls in lowsec and NPC space, again. We’ve got four really good small gang FCs, at the moment and I’m keen to do a corp deployment.

Goonswarm Fountain War Update – 18th March

Top NCdot skirmish FC and campaign planner Fufa or Foofa or something like that demonstrates his radical new strategy for taking Fountain at the bazillionth attempt.

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Welcome back to Fountain. For what is almost certainly less than the eleventh time, we find ourselves scratching our heads in bemusement while watching a bunch of NCdot members strapping ostentatiously spiky helmets to their heads and waddling at what passes for top speed towards our walls, apparently in the wild hope that they can head-butt our sovereignty indexes to zero.

I’m not going to lie to you: this invasion is so bafflingly obviously doomed that I find myself making excuses for the enemy. I presume that they have some vast ally we didn’t think of waiting in the wings, or that they have a spy in one of our Fountain allies with roles to disband or the like. Because at the moment theirs is so nonsensical a plan that if I scratch my head much more I’ll end up trepanning myself and letting the bad voices out.

This is almost certainly going to be the last great war under dominion sovereignty, and may well be the last war for a long time in which those of you with supercaps and titans – apparently most of you judging by the move ops – will get the chance to flaunt them with any real effect. So for goodness sake get them to Fountain. In a convoy. Not solo. What, are you ex-Razor or something?

Seriously, I don’t know why you would go through all the pain of getting those supercaps, of endlessly replacing all those ratting ishtars you lost to Moa – usually because you were watching hentai porn on the other monitor and it was just getting to the good bit with the tentacles – if you are going to pass up the chance of a BR- rerun but on home soil and with even greater subcap dominance.  Don’t make poor Gevlon have shelled out all those hundreds of billions for nothing yet again. Because believe me, the third-tier scrubs who organised this invasion ache to be able to have a comeback to that humiliation and there is a very real chance we’ll get to show their supercap fleet what the inside of four hundred kilometres of bubblefuckery looks like one more time.

Here, by the way, is a gif of one of the five move fleets yesterday. Don’t miss this. Check the forums for further massively bloated move ops that act as unfun gateway drugs to the euphorics our enemies are selflessly offering us on the Delve border.

The Mystic Stylings of the Prophet Endie

Most of you know the way that these wars play out, especially in Fountain. Fuelled by the blindly optimistic view that “this time will be different, no really, I have a good feeling about this guys, just trust me,” the hostiles will get excellent turnout for a few fights and structure shoots against only the locals. They’ll take the odd system and circle-jerk threads about it on reddit into the stratosphere, because everyone knows that he who controls the karma, controls the universe. After all, when we were driven from the reddit battlefield during the previous Fountain invasion after Phoebe, in short order we lost the entire region, going on to be driven back to Venal in a series of unmitigated disasters only made bearable by the fact that it was entirely imaginary.

That’s usually the point at which we sacrifice a titan to the fickle gods of Eve war, but apparently we some deep-cover sleeper corp in the alliance called Repertoire or Reparations or something who have carefully laid low by never coming on any fleets and only ever posting while disguised as the bastard offspring of Fcon and Widot. Now, as we begin a war, they have pounced, viciously jumping their titan into a Snuff trap and cackling as they assure our doom by dying like a Liberian mortician with a fetish for blood play.

As an aside, and as a member of Bat Country I should like to point out that losing a titan to Snuff Box is, in fact, a clear signal that you have really made it as a corporation in Eve and that you are dining at the top table of Eve’s elitest p33v33p33.

Brave Newbies: The Implodening

Napoleon “Sun Tzu” Bonaparte once said that if you place a lion in charge of 100 dogs, the dogs will fight like lions, but if you place a dog in charge of 100 lions, the lions will die like Korean entrees. Actually I don’t know: maybe Dokdo can clear this up for me but I imagine they probably eat lions too, given half a chance. That’s beside the point. The issue here is that Napoleon never considered what would happen if you put a panel of a herd of sheep, three parakeets and a drunk jellyfish in charge of a giant sack containing several thousand chubby cats. That is pretty much BNI at the moment.

After a hilarious (if you are not stuck in a station depending on these guys to save your stuff) soundcloud was leaked containing an impressively drunk leader whose grasp on space politics was not improved by the apparent consumption of a quart of absinthe arguing with less than eighty or ninety of the elite inner circle who run Brave Newbies, drama has spiralled excitingly with PL’s decision to push Brave’s staging system into final reinforced. I certainly recommend you listen to the soundcloud in question: if you can do it without grinding three millimetres of your molars into dust at the bit where some antipodean says “can I just have a newbro moment here?” you are a calmer, more forgiving person than me.

Goodness knows how this will play out. Since several huge, sprawling factions of scores of people all think that they really run BNI. One of the Brave Newbies governments worship the N3 bloc that farms them merrily for kills, and if they succeed in having their way we could yet see BNI bringing vast fleets of ewar ships to fight us, but that is just one of a huge range of kkkomedy options that lie before us: maybe they really will move to geminate. Maybe they’ll melt down so fast they burn right through the earth’s core and end up singing that annoying woman from the soundcloud. Someone should run a sweepstake.


Let’s pour some cocaine on the kerb for a gangbanging thug who never saw it coming: Fwiff0/Mandozer. Apparently Aryndel saw that he’d left on good terms last time and thought that this Fabulous Freewheelin’ Franklin of the spaceways was now a reformed character and let him in unvouched (and this with people like me saying “not on my dime this time”). Even more bafflingly, someone thought that loaning him a bazillion ISK was wise: frankly I’d rather lend my house to the Greek government for the purposes of moving it to a warzone and putting up a big sign saying “fuck all Putins and ISIS: bomb this house if you’re not down” but I guess that’s why I’m stuck with all this stupid ISK unlike the cunning eve capitalist in question.

Fwiff0’s plan had been to go out aw0xing that guy from that Repertory corp who spends his days making Widot look like Epsilon-tier posters but, Dozer being Dozer, he literally slept through his own aw0xing spree and the hit squad he had infiltrated into his alt corp killed Warr Akini, ironically someone he got on with ok, instead.


Get to Fountain.  Or if you are in EG, Reavers or Blackops get your shit deployed to where you will be infilcting your own particular brands of hilarious griefing on our hapless foes.  Don’t move supers solo.  Don’t use a council to run your alliance and never lend money to someone who only joined the alliance to win a bet.

And hurry on the deployment, because sooner or later Vince Draken is going to log in and notice what these bunglefucks he left in charge are up to and once he stops laughing he’s going to cut our fun shorter than a reality show star’s career.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Sov


In my last article I went over a big pile of reasons why I liked the first iteration of Fozziesov. This one contains a few suggestions for tweaks as well.

Phoebe and Phoezziesov

The impact of Phoebe on these mechanics reveals a key effect of the changes to travel made late last year: localisation.

Imagine you are leader of a mid-sized, sov-holding alliance – “Memecats Alliance” – living in Cobalt Edge and you fancy making yourself feel all relevant and elite (argh I automatically typed “revenant” there). Naturally, you immediately deploy from your holding to, say, Catch where Big Target Alliance already have a bunch of NPC sov dwellers merrily torturing fights out of them from Stain, empire and Curse. You can roam around and bomb or otherwise harass their nightly defence fleets on gates. Maybe pick off stragglers with cloaking ships.

But you are *not* an NPC dweller. You have a bunch of space, and maybe some CSAAs building supers (brave you under the new system!) back in Cobalt Edge. And now “.xX420Noscope BudSmokersXx.” next door in Tenal have camped your left-behind ratters into their stations for days. Who cares, right? They should be on deployment, the scrubs. Let ’em squeal. You are like Ivan the Terrible here.

Except that now your occupancy indexes are plummeting, and a couple of ten-man .xX420Noscope BudSmokersXx. gangs just reinforced every structure in your two constellations in a matter of hours. It took you forever to get down here, and your triage carriers took half a week to move to your lowsec staging system, and now you have to jump clone back or risk losing your entire empire. And this will happen every couple of days. Maybe next time you should consider invading those guys next door, next time?

This is All Good and Working As Intended. The catch, if you will spare the pun, is that people will still take the easy route out, because the system at present doesn’t actually offer incentives to do things as smaller groups. You and your neighbour both want to deploy, you both have to deal with the endless stream of zero-risk NPC dwellers, so why not blue each other? With the potential for endless pestilential timers, the best defence is to blue up everyone nearby. And the guys next to each of you, because shared blue lists are easy. In fact, if you *don’t* view the prospect of hacking your own sov structures every single night from now until eternity as fun for some reason then you either want to live deep in Bluetopia or in NPC nullsec.

The in-game answer is probably mixed-TZ alliances. Like Goonswarm. EG wants to deploy? Set structures for EU TZ vulerability. BL deploys nearby? Set timers for deep euro time and send poor Elo a nice alarm clock as a birthday gift. I am not sure that this is what was planned.

Gevlon Goblin in Good Post Shocker

I am going to do something special here.

I am going to quote The Gevlon. Approvingly. Of course, as Gevlon would be quick to point out, a good post tends just to be one that
the reader agrees with. But here, Gevlon cuts to the heart of the matter and makes a good point.

Each time a structure is reinforced, the defender is being forced to bet he can hold it. The defender’s stake is the sovereignty that
makes living in nullsec (allegedly) worthwhile. The attacker should not force that bet with a T1 cruiser: that is not of commensurate
value for forcing a defender to get scores of people to waste an hour of their gameplay to fix their trolled sov. And a handful of interceptors warping in at each side of a 500-km wide sphere and warping off to let others continue using their Entosis mods whenever approached is not placing assets at risk to force fights. Nor is what I admit I would love, warping around the field using the Entosis mods to kite defenders into a steady stream of tackle wrecks.

On a personal note, I cannot help but think that this is a chance to make battleships relevant again. Make the fitting requirements require at least a battleship, or maybe a battlecruiser hull, and you have some old-fashioned, burly brawls on your hands once more! P.S. fix bombers and insta-probing.

In any case, the doomsday theorycrafting about ridiculous, untrackable setups should wait until we know the fitting requirements of the Entosis units. I bet Fozzie has no intention of allowing pairs of 12km/s troll inties to zip around kiting uncatchably.

If Everyone is a Wolf…

Manny was also quick to raise the question of risk vs reward
“Besides the name on the map why would anyone choose to move to nullsec? ( Incursions , level 5’s already offer more isk per hour than
nullsec. )”

It is vital to remember that Manny sits firmly on the predator side of the argument, here. He knows that, in order to get fights, PL
need a vibrant and busy nullsec upon which to predate. A system which allows non-sov-dwellers to run riot in sov null, but which does not compensate the sovholding line members sufficiently, will see depopulation, after which nobody gets fights.

The job of sov-holding nullsec alliances in the new game is to be the content for attackers, who will probably tend to be NPC-space-
based (NPC null, lowsec, highsec NPSI etc) or wormhole forces. That is fine. The nature of a PvP game is that the end game content is
other players, and CCP relies on sov-holders to provide that content to others and to each other.

But it is vital for the health of the game that there are sufficient sheep to feed all the wolves. If the game gives more advantages to
the attackers then the rewards for putting up with the resulting harassment have to increase dramatically. People have to believe that it is really worth the candle.

Manny also raised the same question that has occurred to a lot
of people: why hold sov when constant troll timers will be being generated by the likes of our Reavers, EG or the like?

I have often suggested that missions should be available in sov null, because they force people to travel and provide things in space to
shoot at, while providing scaleable income for a dense population. I have picked up from comments by Fozzie that he is not keen on that
idea, and wants to keep those lucrative rewards in NPC null and lowsec. In that case, it would be a simple change to increase the
number of anoms that spawn in a system with an upgraded hub to allow easily-tweaked maximum population density.

The key thing is that, in order to defend in this new system, you will need a certain player density: you need to have enough people
nearby who are able and willing to drop everything in order to see off the multiple harassment fleets running around. That means a
certain number of players within your staging system and very close nearby.

But if the game does not support that density then the floor on the minimum viable population density is *above* the ceiling on the
maximum supportable economic density. That would see sov space empty. You might not want to see sov space any richer, but you have to bring people closer.

Boosting the anoms per system through the iHub would not provide more money overall in sov nullsec – and certainly nothing to match NPC systems like N5Y in ISK/Hour – but it would allow for smaller footprints and populations dense enough not to feel they need more allies to act as buffers.

Fozziesov? What is this called, anyway? The new Sov system.

I’ll bet you expect me to raise all hell about the problems this new system raises for Goonswarm, and to start pointing out why it will never work, aren’t you?


First off, there are many elements of this system that I like. I think that the stated goals – provoke fights, increase flexibility, enable smaller groups to hold sov – are wholly admirable, and I was very flattered to see several passages from my blogs appear. I think, overall, that there is a huge amount of promise there: Fozzie made it quite clear that an important element of the design was that it was malleable, and that he foresaw the potential for a lot of tweaking before it went live.

Entosis -> Apoptosis -> Necrosis

I love the Entosis element: I had suggested a class of ship dedicated to “hacking” sov like this instead of a module, but on reflection, the module allows for more variety of fleet doctrines than being tied to a certain class being in fleet and working around that. The underlying principle is the same: you have to put ships on grid to take or defend sov. That is the key point and everything else is attempting to balance what is perhaps the single most complex game on the market.

I think that the timer element is well executed, as well. Yes, it will provide challenges for AU TZ people, for instance, to take systems from EU people, and similar combinations. But at the same time that is balanced for AU TZ defenders who will tend to be be more secure. Widening the window or making structures vulnerable round-the-clock would mean that people would be encouraged to troll-reinforce those who cannot give them a fight at the time: people who will be asleep when the sov structures get reinforced. I think that would go against the “get-fights” spirit of these changes.

As well as their ability to disable services, off-timezone forces will also have the important job of reducing the defenders’ use of the space to even out the timer multipliers. I do like that aspect of the design: there are lots of ways to attack. That is good!

There are a few elements that I do feel need tweaked. Here are my first couple of suggestions: everyone is already suffering great fatigue from reading a thirty-page sov design document so I won’t do it all in one post!

What about the little guy?

Malcanis’ Rule is not broken here: read to the end!

I like the constellation sov idea, with split up fights in a variety of locations. I hope that yields what is intended: an urgent race between opposing forces, moving around rapidly, splitting forces to take one timer while harassing others and so on. The fact that these timers can be all over a constellation really favours someone who has forces to spare to camp gates.

I do worry that this favours people like us (Goonswarm) rather heavily. On a big op, we can afford to place a full fleet in three timers and put a fourth on duty interdicting hostile travel. I think that a further advantage explicitly rewarding the smaller defender would be good: perhaps a multiplier on top of the occupancy bonuses meaning that an alliance that owns one system has its Entosis systems run twice as fast again; one that owns two systems has them run at 1.8 times as fast, and so on down to, say, six systems when there is no bonus. Otherwise a small defender will rapidly be camped into zero occupancy bonuses then easily overwhelmed by numbers.

I may very well be shot at dawn for this by my own bloc but perhaps that multiplier could further scale once a certain threshold is reached so that someone who owns a very large number of systems (more than 8-10 constellations, say?) has its Entosis systems run progressively slower?

Thus endeth the reading…

OK that is part one: I hope it came across as welcoming and optimistic but with a couple of important quibbles.  Next, I’ll look at Risk vs Reward and the inevitable rise of the remote tracking computer-boosted blap-Muninn in Fozziesov.

Alliance Phoebe Scorecards

Now that Rhea is upon us, I thought I would write a quick assessment of how each of the major blocs reacted to Phoebe, and to the major changes it implied as to how and where alliances hold space.

Hero Coalition – 7/10 – A perfectly respectable passing grade which improved due to resilience and the willingness to follow through on their decisions.  Part of Hero’s to Phoebe response was born of sheer inertia: BNI had a few options available (some of them radical, some less so) offered to them by N3/NCDot, the CFC and others. Brutally frankly, they didn’t remain where they are because they thought it was the best option – although that might turn out to be true in the long run – but because they, and specifically BNI – don’t have the structures in place to make radical decisions.  Their ultimate response was that nobody felt able to make the call on their options.

Still, having decided to stay put, they were clever enough to neutralise the Providence front with diplomacy, and they’ve been lucky that the various Russians who might have been a threat have been ineffectual or distracted by other targets. The tinfoil hattery over PL’s motivations was a bit daft but killing two of PL’s titans has given BNI in particular a swagger that they’ve not had before.  I remember the effect of Goonswarm killing Shrike’s titan in 2007 and the last couple of weeks could be similarly exploited by BNI to create a different view of themselves than was the case in the past. Closer relations with BL are a strategic ace in the hole but they do need to watch out for the traditional skimming-off of their best members as a result. Continue reading Alliance Phoebe Scorecards

I've been GIA director and a senior Goonswarm leader for over five years and eminence gris of Bat Country for seven.