Yesterday, I kicked off this series of posts on Eve Online reform by saying that I wanted it to be harder for big groups to take away small groups’ sov, so long as the defending group is active. This is because, personally, I think that far, far smaller groups in Eve would be a good thing.
Over the next few articles, I’ll go into more detail of the rules that should guide CCP as they approach the task of fixing a very broken game. But today I want to try and sell you on my vision of a better Eve Online. What I think I should do is say just why I think Eve needs to turn back the clock on the five years of gigantism and elephantiasis that the Dominion patch inflicted upon us.
My dream is an Eve sovereignty map made up of scores of independent alliances, ranging from a couple of hundred people up to a couple of thousand or so in the most extreme cases, and each holding somewhere between a single system and two or three constellations. I don’t think there should be some artificial “only ten slots for blues” or “limit alliances to a thousand members” caps. CCP has used the stick often and we players always get round their attempts. Instead, they should address the demand side. There should be no measurable sovereignty advantage to being in a group of a thousand over being in a group of two hundred.
I need you to make four assumptions with me here, which I will detail in later posts.
- First is that we should have a sovereignty system that means that it is incredibly difficult for even a huge mass of pilots to evict a group of a couple of hundred pilots from their space, so long as those defenders keep turning up to fight. If they don’t turn up then they should lose their space.
- Second is that if the attacker, even if smaller than the defenders, keeps plugging away at their attack for weeks, grinding down the defender’s will to hold their space, then they should be able to take that sovereignty without ever having to shoot massive, stationary, defenceless structures which serve only as obstacles to fun.
- The third assumption is that those same couple of hundred pilots should be able to live and get rich by holding a small number – say only half a dozen – systems.
- Finally, there should be real, exponential difficulties associated with holding increasing amounts of sovereign space.
Satisfy these conditions, and there would be no need for large blocs. No benefit, indeed. The dissolution of today’s hyperblocs would take a little time, but soon, we’d have a patchwork Eve. And that patchwork Eve would be more exciting, dynamic and unpredictable. We are celebrating – well, maybe commemorating is a better word – the 100th anniversary of Europe’s first industrial scale attempt to wipe out the French: World War One. That started in the Balkans, and “Balkanised” has for centuries been a term for things that are shattered, unpredictable, splintered.
Zoom in on the sovereignty map and we’d find these micro-alliances, small enough that every member knows almost everyone else. Each alliance in this scenario would probably have two, three or more immediate neighbours. Some they would get on with. Some they would doubtless hate. In a region like Fountain, with its ring-and-pockets structure, you might find a dozen alliances in a state of constant struggle, alignment and re-alignment. There wouldn’t be one stultifying, overarching conflict like there is now. There would be dozens. Let a thousand jagged flowers bloom.
The news sites would have a dozen wars to detail, instead of the current one, very cold, conflict. Imagine getting into the office and firing up dotlan or themittani dot com or Crossing Zebras and keenly looking to see whether space changed hands in the South Delve war, then reading an article on a series of fights one of the fiercely-raging Wicked Creek conflicts. Imagine that you are a mercenary corporation commander, and that your hundred people really can make a difference by keeping up the pressure for a client by harassing one neighbour to stop them intervening in a war they are fighting against another.
Imagine that you are sitting there in Citadel with your young alliance of newbies and mission runners and you fancy taking the plunge: if the major powers live within only a few constellations each, instead of multiple regions, then you will return to the unclaimed swathes of space that the south saw in the first few years of Eve. Whole constellations would remain unclaimed and that would mean that the barrier to entry was lower. Or perhaps you think you have what it takes to engage another minor power in a long war, grind down their will to live in the richer constellation they’ve claimed and remove them from it?
More alliances means more FCs are needed, and more young FCs getting a chance. More alliance leaders, more diplomats, more spies. Instead of only fifteen to twenty of us getting to run Eve for years (and we have done!) hundreds of younger, newer players would have the chance to rally a couple of corporations to themselves and head off into nullsec. Conflict being localised would mean that most sovereignty fights would probably never hit the tidi caps.
Would coalitions coalesce? Certainly, from time to time: human nature is to seek safety in the herd. And I have no doubt that every year or so we would see another B-R or 6VDT, especially without the great blocs’ cautious terror that losing their supercarriers mean potentially losing all their space and their easy, trillion-ISK-a-month rental income. But without the necessity to huddle together – without the fear of losing everything to a vast and invincible foe – these coalitions would be shifting, temporary and volatile.
Do you want to try forming your own alliance with some friends? Carving out a few systems? Making the difference you were told you could make in Eve? That cannot happen in today’s monoculture. You don’t need CCP’s current grandiose and overblown snoozefest. You need an Eve where you can defend your space against whatever your enemies throw at you so long as you keep turning up to fight. And you need this Eve of Smaller Things.