Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Supercapital Economy

Do you remember back in January - that dusty West Texas town? Where we spent our nights in the little cantina named L√°grimas de Los Perdidos? You'd play the guitar, soft and low, while I shuffled and dealt cards. And sometimes, late at night when the moon went down, young women from the town would slip from their beds to find us there. And they'd step softly to our table, look down at us with their dark and liquid eyes, and ask "Is there anything I can do for you, mister?" And, remember, I would turn to you, just at that moment? And I'd say:

"You know, when CCP nerfs the jump bridges, there'll be no commensurate nerf to Super Carriers."

With CCP Soundwave's announcement earlier today, I was proved right. Again.

I wrote back in January that this would happen. And of course you all know what it means. The reduction in the ability to project force with conventional forces means that the supercapital is more powerful than ever when it comes to projecting force. And conventional ships are even weaker when it comes to offsetting the supercapital "I Win" button.

While not killing jump bridges altogether, there will be a new limit of one bridge per system, as opposed to two per system as is currently the case. While jump ships won't be able to use Jump Bridges in the new order, that will be an inconvenience chiefly felt by Jump Freighters. It won't be a meaningful limit on the ability of supercapital fleets to project power.

Now, the supposed reason for this is to bring on the PvP in nullsec. Pirates like Rixx Javix have the idea that its going to allow their roaming gangs easy kills without having to worry about the posse coming over the hill after them in force. They think new killing fields will be opened up to them, and the mean old nullsec alliances will curb stomp them no more.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If power cannot be projected using subcapitals, it can be projected with supercapitals. And that means it will be projected with supercapitals. While they will intercepted less often by a hoard of battleships, nuisance alliances (i.e., those that don't have a significant supercapital presence of their own) will be baited and then curbstomped by the capital/supercapital fleets which are no longer the rarity they once were. With supercapitals the most effective means of projecting power, these fleets will become even more commonplace.

By decreasing the utility of subcapitals CCP is driving nullsec increasingly toward a supercapital based economy, in which only alliance with deep pockets can afford the price of entry.

So much for making nullsec available to small alliances.


  1. Am i the only one that thinks this fix isnt horrible?

  2. Tetra - It's not a bad change in an of itself. Its that the change was made without a corresponding nerf to supercaps. Done as a stand-alone change it's going to have the opposite of the intended effect.

  3. Somewhat well thought out. The sad fact that CCP thought of Black Ops battleships (the least used ship in EVE) but not Rorqual or Jump Freighters to be excepted from the gate change is the only real problem with this action alone.

    Does CCP need to deal with SuperCarriers? Absolutely. Should they wait to deal with jump bridges until they have a consensus on what to do with SCs? I can't answer that...

  4. Hmm. need coffee this early - "from the gate change" should be "from the bridge change"

  5. @S.W. - Recall that the point of the JB change is to make Jump Freighters, Rorquals and other non-combat ships more vulnerable.

  6. Well since I was used as an example, let me clarify my position somewhat. I didn't want to burn this on my own post, I was saving it for later. I do agree with you about SC and the possible effect they will have on Null. I also agree that this actually hurts smaller alliances.

    We will all have to wait and see what else CCP plans before we throw in the towel. They made it clear that this was only the beginning of changes.

    With that said however, I'm happy because this messes with Null. And while this change doesn't directly mean more fights, it does indirectly. You are being somewhat limited in your thinking, granted to drive home the message of your post, but a messed up Null benefits us Pirates in many, many ways. The SC consequence you mention is of no concern to us, in fact if I put on the full throttle Pirate hat I'd say go for it. (Although I think it is bad for Eve, it would be good for me.)

    Driving people out of null brings them into Low. More targets. Chaos in Null means more targets. Less JB mean less chance of getting immediately blobbed, which is a good thing. I know how it works cause I used to do it. The Null sec alliances can SC each other all day, us Pirates are a crafty bunch and we'll find a way to exploit these changes to our benefit.

    Pirate hat off. As it stands these changes are bad for Eve, unless the SC gets nerfed.

  7. @Rixx - As I said, it doesn't "mess up" nullsec. It simply places a heavier emphasis on the role of the supercapital. Don't worry, you'll still get your piratical ass handed to you when you roam in nullsec. Supercaps will play a larger role in the curbstomp is all.

    At to any migration to lowsec from nullsec, you might not like that as much as you think you would.

    The good thing about lowsec at present is that pirates don't often have cap and supercap drops coming down on them.

    Any exiles coming in your direction will likely have caps and supercaps of their own. And while they might be reluctant to risk them in a deploy against Pandemic Legion, Lucifer's Hammer ain't no Pandemic Legion.

    You're assuming all the negatives will be confined to nullsec. How easy will small gang piracy be when supercap blobs start showing up in lowsec?

  8. This supercap boogieman and how it messes up all of small gang warfare is such a myth.

    Say I'm roaming around in my BC gang, maybe with a few Tempests, we gank some stuff and then engage a Drake that lights a cyno and drops 3 titans and 10 Nyxes on us.

    I mean, yeah, we'd laugh, but it's essentially impossible for them to do anything to more than one or two of our members who are tackled by the bait.

    I've been roaming NC space for half a year, and the worst that has been done to us was PL dropping two titans on us and doomsdaying two of our Lokis (who were tackled by multiple Rapiers).

    As for jump bridges - small alliances never even had jump bridges. Only the NC, DRF, -A- and IT ever had jump bridge networks worth talking about.

    Your new affiliation with the NC is really starting to show.

  9. You obviously don't know as much about the current low-sec situation as you do the null one m8. We deal with Caps all the time, and while we don't often run into SC, that doesn't mean they aren't around. Just last week we killed several SCs. In fact I've killed more caps/sc in the last three months than I did all of last year in null.

    Sebastian said it best, the SC problem in null isn't really a problem for anyone other than the big Alliances who keep bashing each other in the head with them. For most of the rest of us in Eve, the SC isn't a factor.

    And btw, it might surprise you exactly what my corp has at its disposal. 'Nuff said.

  10. @Seb - NC affiliation? What NC affiliation?

  11. "This supercap boogieman and how it messes up all of small gang warfare is such a myth. "

    "For most of the rest of us in Eve, the SC isn't a factor."

    Super cap proliferation does not directly hurt small gang and small alliance warfare in that they are not deployed in those battles. Instead, they limit the extent to which small gang warfare can occur. Overpowered SC's mean that a large chunk of 0.0 is not available for small gang warfare. That's like saying "building another skyscraper won't hurt the rainforest" because the rain forest was cut down years ago, and not allowed to grow back.

  12. I don't think anyone's actually arguing that supercap proliferation is a good thing for EVE. Even if there are some sectors that will be advantaged by the situation, it takes a lot of steam out of the nullsec game, allowing newer, subcap alliances to survive in nullsec only through the indifference or good graces of the big boys. Granted, we see a lot of indifference as the big boys keep trying to crack open each others' skulls, but the point stands.

    And it's a shame, because the subcap game is filled with fascinating strategies and adaptations beyond "have more ships," but it just doesn't get a chance to matter in nullsec's big picture.

  13. "Even if there are some sectors that will be advantaged by the situation, it takes a lot of steam out of the nullsec game, allowing newer, subcap alliances to survive in nullsec only through the indifference or good graces of the big boys."

    I hear what you are saying, but how is that any different than any other potential paradigm? The fact is, if you take out the supercaps, there will always be some version of the "big boys", because what you are talking about is human nature. Whether it's supercaps or isk or numbers or whatever it boils down to, older, more established organizations will organize in such a way as to set the terms for younger organizations. That's not going away because anything less eschews efficacy. You can't design a thriving world full of complex options and do away with that element.

  14. @Rixx - I take nothing away from Lucifer's lads. You're a ferocious bunch of jolly jack tars. Right terrors of the space lanes.

    Alas, for all that you don't punch in the same weight class as folk like PL, DRF et al. If you did, I'd be lord of Etherium Reach by now. (How's that going, by the way?)

    It isn't that you and yours aren't wolves. Just that a couple of years fighting dragons does marvels for putting wolves in perspective.

    At the end of the day ol' Mord can only tell you the storm is coming your way. Whether or not you put the top up on the convertible is, as always, up to you.

  15. I wish the comments had a damn edit button.

    My point is to say the problem with "overbalanced supercaps" isn't that it creates an us and them paradigm between older, more established alliances and the younger, less powerful ones. It's a trap to fall into that line of thinking.

    Rather, if it's even a problem, it's that the overbalance widens the existing rift between the two. Again, I'm not sure that's bad so much as axiomatic. But, as Mord says, unless you give the supercaps equal treatment, CCP falls short of achieving their intent.

  16. Touche, Xel.

    I suppose what I consider to be the difference is that established alliances and coalitions can produce supercaps in a way that new alliances generally can't. And, yes, those established alliances would have huge advantages in terms of isk and whatnot even if supercaps didn't exist at all.

    But the thing is, with the subcap game, you see dominant widespread tactics and approaches to combat that then get turned over by a new, (presumably) clever approach that undercuts it. Subcap strategies can be undermined in a way that supercap strategies can't, so much.

    Basically, a new alliance trying to make it in nullsec, supposing supercaps didn't exist, would be at a huge disadvantage due to the wealth of isk, ships, and pilots in the established groups. Yet, Dominion being what it is, if they were clever enough, they might have a shot at carving out someplace to grow even if the bigger, established alliances weren't totally indifferent to it. The same would be true if supercaps existed, but were in balance with the rest of the game. With supercaps wielding power disproportionate to their admittedly-massive cost in time and isk, however, and thus having only one especially viable strategy (have more supercaps!), that possibility is even further diminished.

    That presumes a great deal, though, I suppose. I'm not a nullsec pilot, for one, and for all I know there might be all manner of strategies -- used or unused; discovered or undiscovered -- to level the playing field in situations like this. And if supercaps were balanced -- or even nonexistent -- it's a sure thing that claiming nullsec space against the whims of established alliances would be incredibly difficult at the least and, yeah, possibly outright impossible.

    But I do think that it probably, as you suggested might be the case, widens the rift between the two. Yet, I suppose there's room to argue whether or not that's a bad thing.

    And this, right here? This is why I don't have an EVE blog.

  17. Sigh.

    Due to a glitch at the blog website all comments for this post since mid-day on May 11 were dropped from the page.

    Not an editorial decision on my part. I was enjoying the lively discussion on the topic. Seems they had to roll back the content in order to recover the site.

    I'm assured the missing comments will be restored. Fingers crossed on that. In the meantime, my apologies to all to took the time to write some very extensive and insightful posts.

  18. I'll take it either way. If the comments come back, by comments will be back, so I won't have written them only to have them get dropped. Ont he other hand, if they don't come back, I won't feel like an idiot for writing about things I'm not really qualified to discuss.


    Or lose-lose, but I prefer to stay positive.

  19. Dear Mord,
    Time and again I am reminded about something I read somewhere (perhaps here) that any change made by CCP to the game will ALWAY benefit the older player base more than the younger one. This seems to be the case here as well.
    But I would like to highlight something here. This hits logistics bad, dare I say bad enough to effect not only the ability to transfer SC building material but even SC jump fuel? What do you think?