Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Eve: Why players can't fix null sec

I don't think players can fix null sec. I could be wrong but here's why I think the brakes are off and the train is rolling downhill.

1) The combined power of the Honeybadger Coalition and the Clusterfuck Coalition is now too strong for any third party to stand against them. In fact probably only Solar would have any chance against even one of them and if Solar started to win one the other would likely help their bros.

Gevlon made this map showing the HBC/CFC controlled areas in red on the left side of the map. Any veterans of board games like Risk know that once you've got this much of the map the rest is just mopping up. Actually they're doing even better than it looks at the left side of the map is much richer space than the right side - all the Tech moons are in the top left, the right is mostly undesirable Drone regions.

CFC/HFC area in red.

2) The HBC (politically dominated by TEST, the Eve alliance from the Reddit forums) and the CFC (politically dominated by Goonswarm Federation, the Eve alliance from the Something Awful forums) are too friendly, too culturally similar and too hostile to the rest of Eve ("pubbies") to seriously undermine each other. A reset in quest of "good fights" is possible but it would almost certainly incorporate elements of HBC and CFC's current policy regarding fighting between the two entities: no ganking on jump bridges or stations, no sov grinding, no messing with the other coalition's strat ops. Effectively roaming gangs can shoot each other but no consequence-laden pvp is permitted.

3) Enemies are responding to losing by joining the Coalitions as fast as they can. There are a few hold outs but much of the HBC's current expansion has been fueled by enemies flipping sides. Raiden, Initiative, elements of Red Alliance have all joined Honeybadgers - thousands of former enemy pilots coming to where the grass is greener. When The Jagged Alliance was kicked out of HBC, 90% of its members left and re-joined HBC either by finding an alliance that would take them in as a corp or by applying as individual members. This is likely to increase in pace as it becomes more and more evident that the only way to play sov null sec is to be in HBC or CFC or face losing all your invested time, infrastructure and perhaps ships when the steam train reaches your area. Also the more space that is conquered the further the big two have to go to find fights. My alliance (in the HBC) is currently deployed three regions away from where we live because there's simply no one closer to conquer. When we finish conquering Esoteria we'll no doubt install blues to rule it then join with them in conquering some new region because if we don't our pvpers will have nothing to do and get bored (and they are quite rightly the most important people - without good pvpers you don't hold space).

4) The management can't rein this in. The Mittani who runs CFC could tell his alliance to stop recruiting perhaps (although even that could be problematic as it's tied to an external website so possibly not his call to make) but he has no chance of imposing a coalition-wide recruitment freeze. He's repeated many times that other alliances are peers, are friends, not pets. It's the philosophy of both of these coalitions. So each alliance is relatively free to grow however it chooses and there's a flood of recruits coming in as people work out it's the best option. Naturally every "junior" alliance wants to grow and prosper and become as strong as or stronger than Goons and Test and they're all trying to achieve this by mass recruiting.

5) The opposition can't stop them. In theory if the military forces of every non-CFC/HBC sov null sec alliance united against them it would be ample force to prevail. However every attempt to organise has failed and the longer the opposition keeps losing the harder it gets. It fails for many alliances because their highly egotistical leaders fall out with each other. In fact most of this patchwork quilt of small alliances are actively fighting each other rather than preparing to face the juggernaut. With the personalities in place in NCDot, Triple A and so on there really isn't any chance of them all subordinating their alliances to one leader and trusting him. Most of these alliances have very little concept of the new style of diplomacy that CFC and HBC use - they're mired in early Eve thinking - we are elite, we are unique, we may temporarily set someone blue but ultimately everyone else is an enemy.

6) Distance doesn't matter. Titans can bridge fleets halfway across the universe and capitals can jump wherever there's a cyno chain. It takes set up but that's in place. Alliances redeploy to staging systems to conquer new regions. Pandemic Legion showed in the 1V-L12 battle just how mobile forces are when they moved to kill SOLAR supercarriers 33 jumps away from their home.. (In support of NC. and Red Alliance who are more interested in fighting SOLAR than resisting the juggernaut now).

7) Crappy space won't save you. People want to put their flags on the map, new members of the coalitions want to make their marks. We are at the point where close to all non-Drone Region space is under HBC/CFC management or will be within the next couple of months. At that point alliances in the coalition will have to settle for Drone Region space simply because there's no other conquerable space left in Eve that isn't either blue or subject to no sov grind agreement between the Big Two.

Conclusion: without game redesign all of sovereign nullsec will be blue to the two major coalitions within two years. Possibly sooner. And players are not able to prevent this. In fact with the collapse of SoCo and the breakup of the NCDot/Black Legion/Evoke partnership in the North Eve is basically won already, we're in the mop-up phase now.


  1. I sadly have to agree. I think the juggernaut started rolling from a few things starting with the changes to blap titans (a nerf to elite titan blob snobs FA), and the excoriation of the Russian RMT fleet/supercap ratting farms in the Dronelands.

    Many people have epeen issues with PL, which arguably could have done a GFC/HBC between the end of BOB and the rise of Goons/TEST as coherent entities. They had the numbers, the titan superiority, the supercarrier superiority, the elitism and numbers. But their model is and always will be to shlepp about the place from NPC null where they can't lose the strategic war. Nowadays, even PL couldn't save anyone from the CFC or HBC, let alone both.

    It is ironic that these guys fight boring sov wars to own the map, which Mittens has said is his goal in order to break EVE (in not as few words). Now they've taken, eg, Delve and Querious, the place is safer to ninja rat than NPC null, and much more lucrative.

    I think that once they've won nullsec, they will turn their gaze inwards, and begin ruining lowsec and ruining hisec.

    The only remedy, as you say, is a change to the rules of the game. You can never change the metagame, but you can take the finger off the scale by redistributing and rethinking all forms of moon mining (and by this I mean making tech available everywhere in null). Then CCP needs to investigate the sov bills themselves, to make it financially crippling to own too much of the map. This could be gamed, but all that money, it could also be stolen.

    It will be interesting, but I think if the players within Goons and TEST don't realise they are ruining their own game, they'll have won everything and ruined everything in 3 years and that will scuttle the HBC/CFC chokehold. Eg, Minmatar faction right now is not quite as emo as the Amarr, but sans plexing alts, ennui has set in and we are shooting one another. All because there's not enough Amarr to shoot.

  2. Probably you are right. I just moved to the Drone regions from Catch, or am still in the process of doing so. And I fear this will be a very short lived adventure. When CFC/HBC start to steamroll us again it will soon be over.
    As I don't want to join them in destroying our beloved game, there will be little left for me to do.
    In my opinion the Map is just much too small. It should be at least 4 times the current size AND sov bills should be at least doubled. Then the playerbase could actually grow, more alliances could own Sovereignity and no current coalition would be able to own all.

  3. Seems it may indeed end up that way. Just be a matter of time that the headlines read CFC/HBC Conquers EVE (Null sec). Owning that much of the map already, its hard to see why CFC/HBC will stop short of owning all of Null sec and make it into the history books of EVE. Interesting times ahead still to come.

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