[Editor’s Note: What follows is an opinion editorial piece by Myra Stark. The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the opinions of FW.com or its staff.]
The Warzone Tier system significantly disadvantages the weaker militia and needs to be removed from Faction Warfare (FW). The system has two significant and closely related impacts. It encourages LP farming and, as such, hands system and warzone (WZ) control over to players with zero interest in FW and minimal interest in PVP. It places the weaker militia or the militia trying to return to the WZ after being defeated at a significant disadvantage against an opponent capable of weaponizing the farmers.
Faction War is plagued by farmers and the warzone tier system encourages their participation in FW. Farmers see FW as a means to earn LP/ISK for other pursuits in New Eden. As such, they join the militia with the highest tier and secure the best payout for plexing. A tier three small pays 30,625 LP for 15 minutes effort. At 1000 ISK per LP, a low rate of return, this earns the farmer 30M ISK. In an hour, running smalls, the farmer earns 120M ISK. He can afford to lose a few 3M ISK plex ships and his profit margin is huge. The farmer is seldom interested in PVP; motivated solely by profit. His ship is fit to kill the rat quickly while offensively plexing (oplex) and often unfit for defensive plexing (dplex). He may or may not watch dscan. The expanded grid means he sees you earlier on his overview giving him more time to warp off. The Maulus Navy Issue is only effective at catching less attentive or ignorant farmers.
The LP paid to the farmer has no impact on the warzone but each plex he completes has a significant impact. Each FW plex changes the vulnerability of a system by 0.7% on average. Returning to our example, the oplexing farmer completing his 4 plexes adds 2.8% of vulnerability per hour to a system on average. Farmers are not solitary individuals. The warzone tier system brings them to FW space in droves. Two farmers operating in the same system can add 3-4% to system vulnerability per hour. This forces FW PVP pilots to actively counter the farmer in order to protect his home system and retain systems for his militia to hold its own tier. Chasing farming alts with zero interest in PVP is like chasing ghosts and not exciting game play. FW corps/alliances often organize counter-farming efforts using gate camps and aggressive patrolling to remove farmers from their systems but this doesn’t undo the damage done to system vulnerability. That requires FW pilots to spend hours dplexing with alts or mains of their own with little chance for PVP to break up the monotony.
Attacking the opposing militia’s systems has zero impact on the farmer. You’ll get PVP from the defenders. The opposing militia may even concentrate to defend the system. System assaults can generate hours of content for FW PVPers. Meanwhile, the farmer sits in his plex undisturbed because FW PVP pilots are PVPing elsewhere. In addition, FW system defense is a 24/7 business. Few FW alliances have adequate players in every time zone. This creates large windows of time when farmers can plex unchallenged, adding 3-4% to system vulnerability per hour. The FW PVPer logs in for his evening gaming session to discover the farmers have hung 10-15% of vulnerability on an important system, forcing him and his corp mates to spend 3-5 hours removing that vulnerability with little chance of PVP. This is not engaging content and functions as disincentive to remain with the weaker militia in FW.
All four militias understand the impact of the farmer on FW, and the militia holding more than half of the systems in a WZ can weaponize the farmers to maintain its dominance. Using the Caldari-Gallente WZ as our model, there are 101 systems to fight over. The Caldari has held 30 systems, plus or minus 5, for the two years since the Gallente last conquered the WZ in August 2014. However, each time the Gallente Militia took themselves to tier three during those two years, the Caldari lost 6-8 systems within 5-7 days. Not a single Gallente system was above 40% vulnerability and every non-fortress Caldari system was above 70% vulnerability. The most recent example is occurring now. Gallente PVPers and their alts have done very little plexing to produce these dramatic results. The farmers are plexing and the Gallente PVPers are flipping the iHubs. In the Caldari-Gallente WZ, to attain tier three a militia must hold 41 systems to produce the 244 victory points required. In the Amarr-Minmatar WZ, to attain tier three a militia must hold 29 systems to produce the 169 victory points required. The militia that controls the majority of systems in the WZ elevates its tier before its opponent conquers the required number of systems to match it. The majority of the farmers change militias to pursue profits gained with the higher tier. Consequently, the weaker militia loses systems, spends untold hours dplexing and emerges weaker than before. It requires minimal effort from the stronger militia’s PVPers. They only need to donate LP to the iHubs and can earn them running missions or plexing with their own farming alts. The majority of the farmers remain with the militia with the higher tier.
The Warzone Tier system is broken. It inherently encourages farming, thereby empowering players with no interest in FW and impairs the weaker militia’s attempts to rebuild. As long as the Warzone Tier system exists, the weaker militia is at a significant disadvantage as it tries to rebuild its numbers, hold its space, and challenge the stronger militia for additional systems in the WZ. Instead of the tier system, lock in plex value at tier two. Eve is a sandbox and no negative gameplay can ever be eliminated from the sandbox. However, locking in plex value provides fair profits for plexing and prevents the militias from weaponizing the farmers. It won’t end farming but over time offers the opportunity to even out the influence of farmers on warzone control by reducing the profit motive that drives farmer participation in FW. FW warzone control belongs in the hands of the players actively participating in FW. The Warzone Tier system needs to be eliminated for the benefit of everyone in the FW community.