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

Another Sort of Wormhole PvP

This isn’t the controversial article I mentioned in my last post: just a quick aside.

One of the fun aspects of Eve Online’s Phoebe release has been the increased importance and prominence of wormholes for fast travel: while traditional modes of fast travel like jump bridges (whether from infrastructure or titans), capital jumping and death cloning are all far less effective for moving long distances, wormholes can let you cross Eve in minutes. All you need are some dedicated probers and a bit of good luck.

Of course, there are risks associated with this. When CFC FC Kcolor found, last night, that Black Legion had used a wormhole to take a fight in Catch, he got one of his colleagues, Tarrante, to run down to Pure Blind in his carrier and collapse the hole behind the BL fleet. Then when the fleet went back into the hole in Catch, near BR-5, Tarrante and Kcolor critted that entrance, too, trapping a chunk of the BL fleet and meaning that everyone’s ships had to be transported home from Domain.

I imagine that it’ll not be long before the same is done to us, and that these sort of W-Space high jinks will be increasingly common as the weeks go by, but it’s a beautiful example of emergent gameplay and I imagine that CCP will be delighted to see it happen.

We are the Content

The job of Nullsec sovereignty powers is to be the easily-found game content for each other and, even more often, for NPC dwellers. CCP risks making that job so unprofitable that the supply of content dries up.

Eve PvE gameplay is notoriously horrible. This is not a unique problem: MMO PvE in general barely rose above the level of “kill ten rats” for many years. But, lead by World of Warcraft, the genre has gradually dragged itself up to a level where entertaining and varied scripted content is available, whether for solo or group play.

Eve, as a sandbox, does not even try to hold the attention of players with purely PvE content. Continue reading

Arrochar Alps

The last few days have been pretty intensely Eve-centric: of my few spare hours each evening it’s been a matter of going on fleets; preparing for the Newbie Drive; answering agents’ updates; repeatedly watching the new Eve advert; making my wife watch the new Eve advert and bathing in the reflected glory (“that’s nice, dear”); and doing corp stuff. On the last point, have you unrented all those empty, useless offices yet? I reckon I saved Bat Country 12 billion a year that way, last night.

Anyway, I’m excited because tomorrow I’m leaving after work for a few days on the West Coast, climbing in the Arrochar Alps. The hours of daylight are pretty limited this far north in late November: last year I was pretty ill but I managed to do a couple of crossings of Rannoch Moor.  Arrochar is a bit different: big hills and climbs that start when you get out of the car and just keep going.

This year has seen some of the best days of climbing I’ve had.  This was me in the southern Cairngorms in late April with my dog:

Glas Tulaichean
Seleighe and I on Glas Tulaichean


That was a glorious day.  This week will be very different: the forecast is good but I’m still betting on rain and mist and cloud as the dominant weather, and limited views.  But I’m 22 pounds lighter than I started the year, I’m not on painkillers, I’ve been in the gym multiple times a week and I’ve managed to climb 15 or 16 of the high tops since the last of my operations: the Arrochar Alps will be fine but I cannot wait for the first post-climb pint.

Endie: the CSM Rep You Deserve, Not the One You Need

We in Goonswarm have always prided ourselves on the transparency of our democratic process. Nothing is hidden from the line member or the outsider about the subtle checks and balances that make sure that too much power is never concentrated in the hands of anyone who is not called The Mittani.

I was therefore the proudest Goon in my whole house when I was awoken by a call I received around 0430 on Sunday morning. A voice suspiciously like that of Dear Leader in falsetto said “I have The President of the CFC on the line for you with an important message.” Naturally I got out of bed and stood to attention before responding.

The familiar voice could now be heard from the other end of the line. After a short preamble of no more than twelve or thirteen minutes largely on the subject of “The Mittani”, he swiftly came to the point. “Your application for the post of alliance CSM candidate has been successful. You may inform your wife and colleagues immediately.”

I could not have been more delighted nor amazed. “My application was successful? And to think I didn’t even know that I had applied!” I’m not going to lie to you, it came as the biggest surprise to me since the time Mittens informed me that my application to manually fit one thousand seven hundred frigates ahead of the 2011 newbie drive had been successful.

Anyway, Mynnna has decided, after a year successfully representing not just Goonswarm but also many other areas of the Eve community, that he has had enough of rude and abrupt proto-Scandinavians and has elected to step down. I will endeavour to persuade you that you should vote for me for this year’s election, initially through reasoned argument and easy accessibility, but later, and in desperation, through the Avalloc method of promising to personally demand of CCP that every request made of me be enforced, no matter how borderline lunatic or even downright treasonous it may be.

Note: This will not interfere with my ongoing role as CSM Election Campaign Organiser for Pandemic Legion’s top poster Walter “Doink” Stine. A man needs to stick to his priorities or what else is left to him in this life?

Fifty Scales of Grey

Here’s a fundamental law about Eve: any penalty imposed on players will tend to hurt the most organised groups least.

In other words, if CCP don’t like something, and they try to make it harder to do it, then the people that get hurt will be the younger, smaller or more casual groups. The ones who work around it will be the larger, more established groups who can bring their organisations to bear on the issue.

As I said yesterday, I’m pretty positive about the suite of changes announced by Greyscale: I think that they would be better timed if announced in parallel with substantial enhancements to nullsec to allow greater density of living, but I am sure that that must be coming very soon.

The Good Stuff: All That Warning

From the point of view of the established blocs, one reassuring factor in these changes has been the amount of warning and information we have had in advance.

Normally, these sort of changes go through the CSM, who sign NDAs and can’t tell nullsec leadership what is in the pipeline. This time, CCP avoided using the CSM in the main and went direct to a nullsec figure who had posted about his ideas: celebrity Fleet Commander Manny of Pandemic Legion. Since Manny isn’t bound by an NDA, much of nullsec has been aware (or at least those whose FCs play DotA together have been!) about what is in the post. As I was on the record as applauding Manny’s changes, I for one was pretty relaxed about what would be announced, which is why I didn’t bother blogging any further once I started to find out what was coming.

The political machinations behind the scenes to prepare for these changes have therefore been going on for at least a couple of weeks: at least one very major player in the current balance of power has seen this as a chance to return to their roaming roots/cast off the shackles of sov etc etc, and some very interesting changes may result.

Don’t get me wrong: I do think that the CSM should have been more involved, and I understand why they are pretty peeved. But from the point of view of the nullsec bloc, having one of “our own” driving the change is certainly comforting.

This should explain why the CFC, N3 and the like are relatively sanguine about the outlook following the changes announced this week. Yes: living in nullsec, outside of a few locations with superb empire proximity, will be made massively harder thanks to the Jump freighter (and, to a lesser extent, Rorqual) changes but we’ll be able to work around that due to the resources our blocs offer. People in the Drone regions, and in the deep south, will be stuffed.

The Picture of Dorian Grayscale

As you’d expect with radical changes, the outlook is not great for everyone.  The same issues about proximity to Empire that made our renter empire harder to defend last month now make our hostiles’ deep, safe space utterly horrible even to live in tomorrow. Look at this map (one of a suite created by Innominate for our analysis):
Distance from NPC space

You can pretty much assume that everything in green is essentially space hell for anything volume-intensive like running POSes for someone without a sizeable logistics group with redundancy built in.  Unless, that is, you believe that MMO players are not lazy seekers of the path of least effort, and that they will create Internet Space Autarky instead of moving where the going is good:

There is a disputed quote, often attributed to Bradley, that says “Amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics”. A great many people on the Eve Online forums – none of whom have ever run a nullsec war – are looking at the announced changes and rubbing their hands over the death of the CFC. I was told, yesterday, that the CFC would “struggle to hold onto ten systems”. Serves me right for commenting on en24. A far smaller group – those who can see the outcomes more clearly – are looking at these changes and thinking “this entrenches the blocs”.

I’m torn. I want Eve’s current landscape to burn. Those who read this blog will know how radically I want to shatter everything about the blocs. And I genuinely pity those who depend on Black Frog, for instance, since they themselves have described why that will be driven to the edge of extinction. But until the big changes happen – and I am certain that Greyscale and Seagull will have a plan for the positives that will make these nerfs make sense, then at least these changes will make life easier for us to keep what we have.

I believe in you Greyscale I really do

Let’s be honest, since it’s just you and I: don’t you just love these days? The CSM in an uproar; every forum with the most tangentional relationship to Eve stuffed to overflowing with google-translated petitions and rageposts and quitposts; all the Sturm und Drang that disappeared when CCP got their fingers burned over Walking in Stations and vowed never to change anything about the game ever again. It might all be as tense as a western journalist in rural Syria but at least it is interesting.

First, let me say that I don’t think that the changes that CCP have announced in their latest dev blog are bad in themselves. As perhaps the most visible proponent of a more fractured, regional Eve I was enthusiastically in agreement with Manny’s original suggestions to heavily nerf force projection. I certainly applaud the direction in which CCP are moving with this first draft of their changes: you can’t make wars smaller and more disparate if everyone can get to every fight in six minutes of time dilation in the target system. I want the people fighting in Fountain to be different to the ones fighting in Vale.

So, unlike some in senior nullsec leadership positions, I am not shrieking about the eldritch horrors and non-euclidean surfaces of this draft version of CCP’s changes. But I do think that, unaltered and implemented in isolation, they will have deeply chilling effects on both nullsec and on CCP’s profitability.

The CFC Will Profit Most (or suffer least)

In case anyone accuses me of opposing these changes due to self-interest, let me state that we’ve had several Goonswarm groups – Logistics, Corps Diplomatique, FCs – working on modelling the likely impact of these changes. The conclusion we have come to is that the biggest gainers in the game are the CFC. We might choose to seize a couple of additional locations, but we’re pretty confident that we can, if we choose, hold our existing empire. If hostiles haven’t yet spotted the reasons we become essentially unassailable then they may try to make a multi-pronged attack, but this will fail after a handful of easily-retrieved systems are taken.

These changes entrench the CFC at the expense of virtually everyone else. I do not view this as a good thing.

Wait did you not read the bit about carrots and sticks?

I know that both CCP and the CSM read my articles on making a more Balkanised, chaotic Eve.  When laying out my vision for an Eve of shattered empires I repeatedly stressed that the stick does not work. I hope that CCP are making these changes because they are implementing the sort of ideas I spoke about: changes to make far denser occupation of nullsec space possible, and which remove the need to travel far for profit or for fights. Indeed, for that sort of Eve to work, the ability to travel across half the galaxy at the drop of a hat must be removed.

But leaving Eve in its current form, with fights distant, logistics onerous and space incapable of supporting a dense population and bringing in these punitive measures in an optimistic attempt to force certain blocs to shatter is financial suicide. People will unsubscribe and the flow of new players will (for reasons I detail below) slow to a trickle.  I like Eve and I do not want these things to happen.

Even if CCP presses ahead with these changes – and with refinement I think that they should push on with almost all of them – then they should do so only when they remove the absolute need for player groups to spread out over large areas.  No need for me to go over my suggestions for that, yet again.

Why do you Hate New Players and Their Money, CCP?

The deathcloning change – making it possible only to set your medical clone to your current location – is the scorpion in the shoe of this change. I can see the reasoning behind this change. Let’s imagine that the scenario which has been attempted so often is repeated once more: Someone attacks the CFC in Fountain, someone else in Delve, someone in Pure Blind and a fourth attacker in Vale. Each of those four attackers is essentially isolated: you could very rarely ask your pilots to gate it from Fountain to Vale, but it would be a pain. But if people can deathclone around then the defenders in particular can have numerous office stations in each region to which their entire bloc can jump in minutes, while attackers will be scrabbling for enough offices for a dozen corps in NPC null.

So yes, the ability to deathclone around every day – or many times every day – should be stamped on.

But what about new members? Brave Newbies, Dreddit, Goonswarm, J4LP and others bring thousands of new people into the game each year. Thousands of subscriptions. We say this to new members:

  • Log into the game and DO THE BLOODY TUTORIAL
  • Apply to [corporation name]
  • Get accepted
  • Press accept to get into the corp
  • Set your clone to nullsec
  • Kill Yourself (in game!)
  • Get into fleets and have fun

It’s a bit prolonged and CCP should look at it some day but it works and we get newbies into the game.  Now in the new system, it will go like this:

  • Log into the game and DO THE BLOODY TUTORIAL
  • Apply to [corporation name]
  • Get accepted
  • Fly to a border system
  • Set your clone there
  • Press accept to get into the corp
  • Undock
  • You’re a newbie so get killed by campers since they know the nullsec entry system hundreds of BNI/Goonswarm/Whoever newbies are told to go through
  • Find yourself camped in the station again so log off
  • Log in the next day, undock and if you are lucky find that there are no campers on the gate
  • Warp to the nullsec gate, jump through
  • Get killed by a camp
  • Wake up in the station again, camped in a wardecced alliance in empire
  • If you want to play the game then drop corp but remember you cannot rejoin for a week due to wardecs
  • Go play Archeage Online

You might say lawl stupid newbies but new players are the health of the game. And this is no theoretical matter: I was preparing to kick off our annual newbie drive this week, but I simply cannot do so when we can see clearly that we will lose most of the new players before the month is out.

And if you think that that’s a minor detail then it’s no idle boast to say that between Dreddit, Goonwaffe, BNI and others we bring in many thousands of new players every year, who I strongly suspect have far better retention statistics than random individuals who mission in empire for a few weeks, alone and friendless, and who pass from the game unmourned and unknown.

I would strongly advise CCP to make deathcloning possible on a timer of, say, eight days with a skill that reduces this by a day per skill level. But don’t put your thumb in the end of your newbie hose, because you’re not going to survive long on your declining veteran base.

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