Now that nullsov is COMPLETELY FIXED (yes, that’s a troll), I believe it is high time for some love in Faction Warfare mechanics. Faction Warfare is already a ton of fun, but there’s always room for improvement and for someone who spends the vast majority of their EVE time spinning buttons in Plexes, there are a few mechanics that really get on my nerves. For me, I find the ability to jump 15 systems into enemy territory and then siege and capture an enemy home system somewhat lame. This is especially true since in many cases you can capture a home system as easily as you can take a fringe system nowhere near any enemy corp’s home base. If you’re going to take a conventional army to invade Russia, you can’t exactly START the fight in Moscow – that’s ridiculous. (I’m speaking figuratively, of course. No offense intended to our Russian space brothers-in-arms.)
By discussing system capture mechanics, I’m trying to address what I perceive as a lack of strategic-level gameplay for FW corps and alliances. In current FW, traditional strategic concerns you find in other “war-based” games don’t really apply. For instance, Jump Drive mechanics makes things like a “supply” line completely different from the way a real army thinks about logistics. One or two dedicated souls can run Jump Freighters until their carpal tunnel flairs up and stock enough ships for hundreds of pilots. In large part, this is possible because there’s very little protection needed for these folks to get the right materiel into position. All that is needed is a dockable station – or even a POS – and the right time zone or precautions in place. This makes strategic concerns like “encirclement” or “over extension” rare or nearly non-existent. The front line in FW is absolutely anywhere and everywhere a corp with enough resources wants it to be.
The Difference between Power and Influence
I think trying to tackle the topic (I’m not even willing to admit it’s a problem) of anytime/anywhere logistics in this article would just be a giant tangent. But this doesn’t mean we there is no solution to the current scenario where systems are nearly all the same regardless of where they are and who controls “the neighborhood.”
Instead, I’d prefer to suggest that we institute mechanics to contesting systems that make it easier for an aggressor to take systems that are next to space they actually control. To accomplish this, I’d like to introduce what I call the “Influence” system in Faction Warfare. To explain the specifics, let’s use an example system near my stomping grounds, Martoh.
- Martoh is surrounded by 5 systems, all of them capable of being captured by FW entities (i.e. systems that are “in” Faction Warfare). In this example, the Caldari control 3 of the systems whereas the Gallente control 2. Martoh itself is controlled by the Gallente.
- Now, let’s say we instate a LP requirement modifier similar to what we currently have with DUST. For those who aren’t familiar with the DUST mechanic, DUST is a first person shooter developed by CCP. When players playing DUST capture a planet through battling it out, it is an actual place in the EVE universe (specifically it is a planet in a system that is in Faction Warfare). Capturing a planet in DUST modifies the amount LP (which is awarded when capturing Plexes) required to make the system vulnerable. Depending on which faction captures the planet, the amount needed to put the system into vulnerable is more or less. In our example here, the Caldari control more of the adjacent systems than the Gallente. Thus the system should be easier than normal to capture because their faction has greater “influence” over the system.
- Next, let’s define what the maximum advantage or disadvantage should be for the attacker. The numbers would have to be tweaked likely, but for arguments sake let’s say there can be a swing from 50% to 150% of the LP required to take a system depending on who has more Influence over the system. This means that if the Caldari had the system “surrounded” (i.e. the controlled all 5 adjacent systems) they would only need to amass half of the LP normally required to make the system vulnerable. Similarly, controlling none of the surrounding systems would require them to accumulate 150% of the regular LP required for a system capture. What this essentially boils down to is how many Plexes are needed to be captured in order to put the system into a vulnerable state.
- In the specific example of Martoh – we have 5 systems and a 100% swing in either direction (from 50% to 150%). Since the Caldari control 3 of the 5 systems, they should claim 60% of the influence swing. Thus, in this system the Caldari only need to capture 90% of the LP normally needed to send the system into vulnerable.
This example does not touch on the scenario where you have a non-FW lowsec system, or a highsec/nullsec entry point. For FW systems that are next to these systems I would recommend:
- Non-FW Lowsec Systems – These systems permanently contribute to the influence of the adjacent FW systems to the advantage of whatever faction owns the static system.
- Highsec Systems – Same as non-FW lowsec systems. They permanently apply their Influence to the adjacent systems to the advantage of whichever faction owns that highsec system.
- Nullsec Systems – No impact on influence.
Ok, so the system is easy enough to understand (I hope), but what does this actually mean in a strategic situation? Here are some potential repercussions of enacting the Influence system:
- Systems that don’t have stations are now more important. Generally, station-less systems are left to the devices of the farmers as they don’t bear nearly as much significance as systems where you can dock. With the Influence system, the strategic calculus changes. Systems without stations that are a major crossroads now can serve as bastions of defense. (See example on the next page.)
- Headshotting becomes a lot harder. Unless you try to work your enemy’s influence down, it’s very difficult to surge the contestability of a system overnight (or in short order). If you want to take a prize system, now enemies can see you coming. FW is frequently about playing the time zone advantage as much as possible. With Influence, the time zone game can only take things so far. Even if the attacker owns the EU and AU time zones, they cannot quietly slip in while a US corp is off busy with real life and plex their home system into oblivion. The extra 50% LP requirement makes your plan require more thought and preparation.
- You have to march down a road instead of bunny hop around it. The Influence mechanic would not impact how hard it is to capture a string of systems (a pipe), but only if you captured the systems in order starting from your area of control. Since a pipe (or straight line of systems) only ever has two gates, capturing a pipe in order would mean there’s always a “regular” amount of LP required to take the next system. By this I mean if you control your starting point and the enemy controls the line of systems in the pipe, you’re always locked in 50/50 influence as long as the pipe is just a straight line without other offshoots. You control the previous system in the pipe you took; the enemy controls the ones after that. Trying to skip ahead would see a 50% increase in required LP, and therefore time and potentially difficulty.
- The permanent advantage of static lowsec and highsec systems actually makes it more difficult to take systems near the enemy’s “home.” This actually makes a lot of sense from a lore standpoint. If you’re only a few jumps from Jita, wouldn’t it make more sense that a lowsec system is pretty important to the Caldari and pretty heavily influenced by its people? Additionally, it gives factions an added layer of defense if they get pushed back quickly. If one faction is on its heels and reeling, setting up shop in a system that has many friendly highsec entry points discourages living out of highsec and provides additional content because now you truly have a stronghold that is bolstered by system capture mechanics. Because fleets have to also extend their influence out past their strongholds in order to take systems, the system also prevents large groups of people from just sitting in a nearly unconquerable system. To me it makes sense that the closer you get the fringes of your enemy’s highsec, the harder the systems should be to crack.