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.

  • Edward Pierce

    Having more people in a system would definitely help increase the people needed to reinforce it, but I don’t know if it would be a big enough deterrent for people constantly harassing the smaller groups they’re trying to help get into null.

    There needs to be higher risk for the attacker starting a reinforcement and failing to win the fight, otherwise the burden is still on the defender and this would quickly turn into daily chores. Perhaps an alliance or corp wide timer in between reinforcements? A certain amount of lost reinforcement timers within a week/month before you’re unable to reinforce any more structures?

  • Alex

    I posted this in reddit earlier but here’s my 2c:

    Whilst I’m a proponent of the agents in sov nullsec idea to increase population density in null systems, I don’t think it should be agents in the traditional sense.

    Sov holders should definitely be able to recruit them in a similar manner to Teams, and the rewards for the missions should be greater than those found in highsec and even lowsec. Rewards should not be given in LP though, rather in raw ISK or even tags similar to that which you get from the ESS (would drive content) and sold to NPC buy orders. Otherwise LP stores would need to be rebalanced to prevent mass price tanking of faction modules.

    I’d also like to see this drive more localised Incursion level PvE in nullsec, where perhaps for level 5 security missions an entire fleet is required to complete them and they should definitely not be soloable. Anything that encourages null players to incorporate capitals, supers, or fleet PvE is good for content and the game. Similarly anything that is able to be done AFK and mostly risk free is bad for it, and the rise of AFK ishtars as the primary source of income for most null players is certainly that.

    The only concern I have about this implementation is that roamers will not just be able to warp to anomalies and get kills anymore, they must first scan the mission runners down giving them plenty of extra time to escape. Counter this with warpable beacons or a means of disrupting all active missions in a system until the offenders are dealt with, which again would drive more content. I remember reading someones non mouth frothing suggestion on reddit a while ago of a way to interact with the IHUB or some other sov structure in system that can disrupt all PvE in the system until the offenders are forced off. In the high population systems and constellations that these mission hubs would support, a mechanic like this would absolutely result in roamers being able to easily get fights and defenders having to actually defend instead of dock up.

    As for an increase in anomaly spawns, I personally disagree with this. You’ve said it before that a greater amount of sites in systems to support a higher population density would result in a confusing and overall unnecessary clusterfuck of a probe scanner. Imagine warping to 15-20 sites, trying to find an empty one.

    But it remains that the only reason larger alliances (save for maybe GSF) own all the sov they do is to support the number of players they have. Moons, POCO’s, etc are not tied with sovereignty, and an alliance can happily own 5 systems in a region as well as all the moons in it; if those systems can support their playerbase. If an entire 2000 man alliance can live in 1 or 2 constellations, vast amounts of space would eventually be freed up as the players found themselves coalescing around central hubs. Sooner or later they won’t mind as much if another corp or alliance comes along and takes their old systems, as long as their moons are kept intact. And within time maybe that new alliance can find itself contesting even the moons, giving us localized, small scale conflict all over eve.

    Oh sorry I accidentally ranted about my ideal vision for nullsec.

  • http://razielwalker.blogspot.nl Raziel Walker

    How many people can currenlty live in a single system? How many renters can live together in a single system if you don’t demand every one is able to run sanctums all day long? A single system can easily sustain 100-200 characters.

    What population density would you like to see?

    You want more rewards in null? Just how much income per hour would satisfy you?
    What about nerfing income sources that are worth too much like those incursions. The problem perhaps is that there is a huge difference between a casual player in his afktar and the person in his officer fit vindicator ratting with a supercarrier alt on grid.
    Should people only use entosis modules when they are serious about taking sov?
    Should people that want to deploy for a few days of harassment use them?
    Should roaming gangs be able to use them to reinforce and provoke fights in a dozen systems during a single roam?

    Was going to say restricting the entosis to bigger ships would mean people only gatecamping chokepoints but I remembered the game also has wormholes and cyno’s.

  • Capri Sun KraftFoods

    NPC Venal right now (or any NPC null space really) can pretty much support an infinite number of people running missions making like 150-200m/hr. I honestly couldn’t give an accurate number on the number of people running concurrently, but during the busier times you’ve definitely got 20-30 people all doing that in the same spread of 3 systems. Thing is, the money is actually much better than running anoms even with a carrier, but all it takes to run them is a cheap t2 fit ishtar.

    I think the general point Endie’s trying to make is that with these proposed changes, sov null offers a really terrible risk/reward balance compared to NPC null and low sec, and I tend to agree with him on that one.

  • Edward Pierce

    I think they need to be very careful about implementing a “highsec in null” type solution because you have to keep in mind that everyone in the game has the option to go back to highsec and run missions, nullsec people consciously make the choice not to do this for a reason; forcing highsec style gameplay on nullsec residents won’t necessarily mean they’ll play it.

    We keep looking at AFK ratting as a problem that needs fixing from an income point of view, but please keep in mind that all of us who AFK rat for income have all the other income options open to us, it’s just that we find them so abhorrently boring that we rather take a lower ISK/hr than deal with the tedium of EVE PVE.

    I like the way FW enabled loads of people to make money off PVP or at least by means that enable more PVP; it seems to me that with this proposed system they’re forcing the “king of the hill” gameplay on null but with no payout at the end, you just get to keep your shit. Not really enticing.

  • SouthSweden

    Second this.

    I´d go as far as saying let NPC´s run the maintance of sov structures and the better standings you have the better services, rates, infrastructures you can have. This would give the PVE some actual meaning to the game instead of just printing ISK. Because honestly ratting is dead boring, null missioning would open up a world of opportunities and draw players to null.
    Also kill the standing cap with NPC factions.

  • Edward Pierce

    Damned Disqus ate my post!

    I want CCP to be careful about implementing a “highsec in null” type solution, mainly because all of us nullsec residents have access to the highsec income sources, but we consciously chose a lower ISK/hr out in null, mainly because we find EVE PVE so abhorrently boring.

    Let’s stop trying to “fix” AFK ratting by forcing some of the openly available means of income on the people who have already passed on that opportunity once.

  • Kael Attrell

    All I’d like is actual group PvE content in nullsec so that there are groups of sheep that are both worth hunting and willing to fight back.

    For example, an instantly-respawning, incursion-style site per system based on the sov level seems like a complete no-brainer. Say, a scout (5-person) at sov level 1 that turns into a vanguard (10-person) site at sov level 3 and turns into an assault (20-person) site at sov level 5. Balance difficulty and payouts accordingly so we can make around 80-100m isk/hr per person in PvP-fit ships. Anomalies are still there if you want to do something solo, but now we have actual group PvE content and the ability to have a standing fleet that is both making decent isk and is available for PvP.

    I’m having trouble imagining a single problem with a system like this, other than the isk faucet, and if that’s a concern just start with a single Vanguard at sov level 5 or nerf the isk/hr to be worse than afk ratting and see what happens.

    All of this is coming from a MRCHI member – we are absolutely the sheep in this scenario and we’re also dumb enough to do something less efficient if it might be entertaining.

  • Endie

    Yeah I have long argued for Goonswarm moving to N5Y and holding moons and using space nearby.

  • Endie

    I agree: reinforcing a structure should mean putting something of value on the field. I’d quite like to see activating the entosis module disable a ship’s warp (and jump) drives and be on a 2 minute cycle or the like. They could still be mobile and part of a fleet, but they are still putting down a stake.

  • callduron

    Lovely to see that as an old school F13er you’ve alluded to Lum’s classic wolves and sheep post. https://sjennings.wordpress.com/2004/12/18/the-unbearable-darkness-of-ultima-online/

    Regarding Entosis links why can’t they simply pin ships like triage or bastion modules? Although encouraging battleships would also be nice.

    Regarding anoms the problem is the difference in utility. The anoms full of nasty little frigates are useless except as places to make Ess traps. It’s all about the Forsaken Hubs. Unless you’re in Dronelands. If you’re in Dronelands it’s still all about the Forsaken Hubs – oh wait you don’t have any, sucks to be you.

    Make anoms all Forsaken Hubs or close. If it’s desired to have easy anoms for beginners then model them on Forsaken hubs but with fewer ships. Nasty little anoms full of warp scrambling frigates are not newbie friendly and no one ever runs them.

    You didn’t touch on nullsec mining but imo mining is in a pretty healthy place and should be fine with this new iteration. I run inty gangs and it’s bastard hard to catch miners, they are usually much better organised than ratters. Also mining is a seesaw so if people give up mining in nullsec then megacyte gets expensive incentivising people to go mine in nullsec.

    Good thoughts Endie, keep them coming and any reader who hasn’t yet voted in the CSM elections should consider supporting him.

  • Phey Onat

    Capturing sov is being addressed but owning sov hasn’t been yet. As you mention, the new sov would encourage local congregation but the best systems can only support a dozen or so players. We are months out from the patch but I’m concerned that CCP isn’t looking at the ability for null to support player density. The dev blog noted the changes that have occurred already in Null, pointing to station changes, ESS and some anom changes but the tone I got was CCP saying, ‘well that’s done, on to sov warfare’. It seems we are getting strategic benefits to occupancy sov without economic benefits.

    If missions are off the table, anoms are the only other source for bottom up income. With anoms, it seems the only options are to make more of them, seed them with new spawns or make entirely new anoms. The first is the simplest option but doesn’t address the monotony of EVE PVE. With the new AI CCP is ramping up, the option is present for seeding pirate ships with ‘newer technology’ that are worth more but take multiple ships to bring down. Alternatively, entirely new anoms could be introduced, comet mining comes to mind and ghost sites were a good step in this direction but there’s a multitude of paths this could go. It requires more development though than the other options. Regardless of the method, the goal of creating economic incentives for occupancy needs to be explained, even in just conceptual form, before the June patch.

    Where do you see capitals in this new landscape, Endie? Are they essentially limited to CSAA harassment? I’ve read comments about them acting as blockades for constellation choke points but I’m not enough of a tactician to speculate on the practical effectiveness of roadblocks.

  • Manfred Hideous

    Fozzie needs to understand that missions allow line members to make decent money in null as competing for anoms will always cause a ceiling for the number of pilots a system can support even is CCP decides to boots theit spawn numbers. It’d also encourage newbros to come out to deep null as they depend on lower level missions to save the isk for that shiny (to them) T-1 cruiser.

  • Talvorian Dex

    Endie, I’m going to link your analysis in my own post. I agree with much of it.

    The idea that “null sec is rich enough” is a silly one. CCP needs to address wealth-generation in null-sec from the ground up. As of right now, the only player-based means of earning isk from null-sec is anoms and signatures (anoms for sheet quantity, sigs for quality). That’s a fundamental problem. It needs to be addressed with this pass.

    Otherwise, sov is going to be like the mounted knight. You don’t see them around today because the technology to kill them outstripped the technology to protect them. Phase II is currently a “let’s burn down all the castles” plan, with no thought behind building them back up.

  • Phey Onat

    Agreed, CCP is changing how to take sov and giving strategic benefits to holding sov but not giving economic reasons to hold it.

  • Phey Onat

    As I said in the first paragraph, my largest concern with the sov changes is that CCP thinks it’s done working on ground up nullsec economic incentives. According to Fozzie, from EVE down under, incentives to own sov area already there – anom ISK generate tons of wealth. But those incentives do not support large populations. Maybe that’s the point CCP wants but I don’t think it’s a good game mechanic to push people out of nullsec.

  • Phey Onat

    It seems that Fozzie answered my question about the future of capitals. Caps will remain, though with the change to assist mechanics, while capitals become force multipliers through wormhole like effects and utilities.

  • http://razielwalker.blogspot.nl Raziel Walker

    Don’t you want a ceiling on how many players can live in a system? Having a thousand man alliance living in a single constellation while the rest of the region is empty seems undesirable.

  • http://razielwalker.blogspot.nl Raziel Walker

    The best systems can only support a dozen or so players?
    You can have a dozen players running sites concurrently (unless you insist on running nothing but sanctum/havens..)
    You can have another dozen players running a mining fleet.
    Another dozen is off roaming space looking for fights. (ok so these don’t really live in your space, they just use this as a conventient supply base)
    Another dozen is afk, doing industry, logistics, POS stuff, whatever.
    Another 120 players are offline because this is not their prime TZ or whatever.

  • Manfred Hideous

    a thousand people in a constellation is fine, though I doubt it’s likely to happen (assuming it’s not a couple hundred guys and their alts). In their prime time, having dozens of people in local means I might pass unnoticed long enough to either find a target or to traverse their home safely.

    The thing is half the subscribed people have no desire to leave highsec so the density will probably never get that high in all but a few cases.

    Missions in null mean your pilots aren’t jump cloning to HS to make isk for null, especially in places with trash income like Provi and Cloud Ring. More people staying in null means more opportunities to target them and the locals would have a larger pool to get a defense fleet going. Missions also mean more gate travel. Someone running Dread Pilot Scarlett is going to be four-ish jumps from the agent, which means a number of jumps to get there and return safely.

    Perhaps instead of station upgrades, agents in space could be used and the upgrade handled by the iHub. This could allow those station poor regions to have some of the same benefits.

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