The Front Line is Everywhere – Rethinking System Capture Mechanics in FW

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Nullsec Systems – No impact on influence.

The Impact

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
The next page has more pictures, I promise!

About Raktak Takrak

Editor-in-Chief, PVP Failure, and GalMil Butt Droid. Raktak does his fighting in faction fit Rifters with a PLEX in the hold - just to keep sh*t real.

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9 comments

  1. Good intentions, but I think this just opens up factions for steamrolling. The argument can go both ways I guess. With the influence constraints imposed, it might be easier to herd the cats and mount a defence. But it can also be used as a way to terminate a large amount of assets by plowing through whatever the herded enemy throws at you (which you would be able to dismantle since you’ve came this far). It might demotivate people from participating all together. Farming might be more difficult maybe…

    I’m not sure. I don’t think you’ve discussed the points in enough detail, and I don’t think one brain is enough to do that anyway. The influence mechanic is not novel, has historical evidence to it, and I think for that reason its best to observe other games with the same mechanic for inspiration and practical case studies that can be used in the analysis.

    I agree that changes should be brought up, but I think any changes to FW need a different direction all together – something that inspires politics with 3rd parties. Without this element it just feels like a different lobby in the same game. This was somewhat attempted with the solar system bonuses reducing market thingamajigs, supposedly intended to inspire people to bring their commerce to LS, which clearly isn’t that important to the people who capitalise the market, seeing as we only have few dedicated people utilising these bonuses.

    • The 3rd party is what needs to LEAVE FW not get a stronger foothold. Imho

      • Why?

        I’d agree only if the goal of the 3rd party is troll and jump on the encounters that FW folks create, attracted by the currently stubborn intention to actually avoid creating content amongst themselves (other 3rd parties).

        • Right now they feed a lot out of the activity we create in our space. It’s kinda unfair because all they give back is an arm’s race that is in a way making low-sec space strangely closer to null-sec status.

          Maybe having them play a bit more by our rules (“downsize or die”, “don’t kill off your content”) wouldn’t be that bad.

          • I’ll use the current situation because its the best reference i have. We live in gal mil Low sec near Snuff Box. They can field and drop multiple supers and dreads at any time day or night for the most part if the situation occurs. This makes it so we have to have our fleets completely in another area of space just because of their overwhelming number of highly SP trained pilots. The reason they have them and we don’t is because this is a militia designed to recruit the new players and grunts to press F1, not to fight capital and super gangs just because your trying to fight a Caldari tower with a T2 cruiser gang, your brawling it over having a grand time. all of a sudden 15 Archons drop and 2 dreads and you just try to warp off and cut your losses. They need to make non FW low sec more appealing as well as fixing the issue in FW. It takes FAR more content away then brings it. Unless you just roam in a frig all day. If your out in T1 cruisers, don’t forget to scout every system in 5 directions all the time if your in range just because your trying to enjoy FW. FW is drawing so much attention from outsiders its unbelievable. other then the smaller groups of corps that bring 10 or 15 members that solo most of the time, which is fine. However having a fight in a large with T3 cruiser and Guards while trying to save a system from being flipped only to have everything ruined by that 3rd party and just take every once of enjoyment out of the next week while we try to work at the system while the 3rd party is always there knowing that’s where the entire 2 parties are focused.

            TL:DR

            “A wise man once said, its never wise to fight on two fronts.”
            – Iggy Azalea 2015

  2. It is an interesting idea, but it could potentially open the system for abuse. It does open up a strategic risk like aspect to FW. Furthermore the choke point systems become either easier or harder to take relative to which side of the front line of the war zone is on.

    Your article got me thinking about the ability to ‘skip’ the front line and capture systems all over the place willy nilly. What if you could only take a gate into (or out of a system) as long as your faction owns at least one side of the gate? No more enemy factions more then one jump deep into the opponent factions space (high sec or low sec). The opportunities for concentrated front line warfare would be epic. And geography would play a crucial role in the ability to defend (or attack) two front line systems at the same time by the same group of people.

    Of course you could always use a jump drive or bridge to reach into enemy territory but then you must also use a jump drive to get back out again. Since combat titans are far out of reach of the militia’s it would likely be black ops hit and runs deep beyond the frontlines.

    Just a thought I had after reading your article. cheers

  3. I don’t think this suggestion would improve FW game play.

    Being forced into a slugfest with a (potentially) more prepared and dug in opponent kills options, choices and freedom in how the war zone moves and (currently barely) changes. It benefits the militia who is all clumped into one to five systems and has stockpiles of cheap and disposable ships, while it punishes the militia trying to harass the “backwater” areas by virtue of their progress being slowed my -mechanics- and not -other players-.

    If you do not want to lose systems that are “behind” your lines then you should try to defend them. That might mean spreading out. Amusingly, that almost represents the ability of one force to harass enemy logistics because attacking “behind the lines” forces your enemy to either accept those losses while pressing forward or redeploy to secure what they already have.

  4. I think this is an unfortunate outcome of the fact that most of what the four great empires do just takes place in the realm of lore, and is seldom shown in the game. Supposedly Caldari and Gallente have ginormous militaries, larger than any player null entity, that slug it out all the time. Yet, apart from occasional events like the Battle for Caldari Prime, that action never shows in the game, leaving it entirely to the capsuleer militias (that lore-wise would only be a small fraction of the total military might of the empires) to actually move the front.

    Using “front” here as the imaginary line on the map between Caldari- and Gallente-controlled systems, not an actual separation line between military forces. The lack of actual frontlines follows not just from the ease of logistics, but also from the low density of military forces in the warzone at any time. If the tanks of the Wehrmacht had infinite supplies and the density of military forces on the Eastern Front no larger than that in a FW warzone, chances are they would have been able to roll straight to Moscow with little to no fighting on the way.

    It would be nice to see navy npc rats around in some capacity in the warzone, just to make it look and feel like a real warzone where empires clash, even though they shouldn’t play a too active role. Maybe spawn in a way similar to highsec navy rats in certain core FW systems whose capture, by all reason, should be unfeasible. Or just make them hang around the stations of the militia and navy npc corps.

    As for warzone geography, I once thought about it in similar terms as the author, though I’d go for a simpler system less prone to oddball stuff from things like weird geometries. First, lock FW pilots out of all enemy stations, just like FW lowsec stations. That would already impose front formation. Then, add a supply mechanic. Any FW system that can trace an unbroken route of friendly-controlled systems to its own side’s highsec is considered to be in supply, a system that can’t is considered to be out of supply. If a system is out of supply, the number of victory points needed to capture it is halved. If a system is in supply, and adjacent to an enemy system in supply, no modifiers apply. If a system is in supply, and not adjacent to any enemy system in supply (or enemy highsec system), it’s considered secure behind the front line and capturing it requires 50% more victory points than usual.

    Such a system would create opportunities for strategic maneuver warfare, giving advantages to those who can take key systems and cut off others, giving it a discount at amount of plexing needed to capture them. Or allow dramatic actions like cutting off a pipe straight through, causing the enemy to lose supply to a number of systems but also pressing you hard to defend the one system in the middle of the pipe, since it too would be just as much out of supply.

  5. Fix for farming;

    A non upgraded system spawns rats as they do now. A system upgraded to 5 spawns 6 rats. One extra for each level. This alone would justify keeping systems upgraded and would heavily impact the opportunistic farmers snatching LP from homesystems while no one is looking.

    Fix for FW occupancy;

    Hostile factions can no longer online POSs inside hostile systems. This alone would make deploying very far behind enemy lines difficult, but wouldnt impact the day to day of faction war.

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