There's a lot of material to cover, so Fiddler's Edge is going to have to revert to "Wall of Text" mode to get it all in.
This has upset Jenny, my research librarian, who's been enjoying her role as blog cover-girl.
"Sexy Librarians are the front line in the war on ignorance," She pouted. "I have a duty to my public."
She kicked off her shoes and reclined invitingly on my desk.
"Now get the camera," she demanded.
I sighed and moved my inkwell out of harms way.
"Twelve fan mails are not a 'public'," I told her. "Now button your blouse and go find my copy of Bright's Old English Grammar and Reader."
She rolled her eyes and slid off my desk.
"Fine," she huffed as she stepped into her shoes on and stormed back to the library. "Go ahead. Just single-handedly blow out the candle of enlightenment."
The door slammed behind her.
Now, where were we?
As I've written in posts like Subinfudation and Taste the Rainbow, one of the big changes CCP put into the Dominion sovereignty mechanics was to add a cost component to holding nullsec systems. When you hold sovereignty over a system the sov bill comes due every 14 days. If you're holding a system that's not of strategic value and not being used to generate income, then you're losing money and getting little but bragging rights in return.
The smart alliance gets those systems to pay for themselves and turn a tidy profit on the side. And that means PVE.
Now, a lot of lean, mean PVP alliances don't have a deep bench when it comes to industrial skills and so can't properly exploit the systems in their sphere of influence. Such alliances are often reluctant to recruit PVE Corporations due to worry about "CareBear rot". After all, balancing the interests of PVP and PVE factions within a single corporation or alliance is a non-trivial problem. So, a number of PVP alliances have been actively recruiting indy corporations into renter alliances that operate within the PVP alliance's sphere of influence.
These are often "turn-key" operations in which the bears pay for the right to claim sov and run the show themselves. They work away adding improvements to "their" system and merrily building useful things like ships, structures (thanks to PI) and sundry materials of war. The landlord collects the fees and is spared being harassed by CareBears every time the station toilets back up.
Now, one of the reasons CCP changed the sovereignty rules was to make the industrialist more central to life in null-sec space; to coax some of the CareBear population out of high-sec and add a new dynamic to nullsec. In this they've been successful. With the exception of Providence, the population of nullsec regions took a notable upward turn in the first quarter of 2010.
But the CareBears brought something to nullsec with them, and it's influence is just beginning to be felt:
They brought money. Lots of Money. Lots and lots of money.
Indications are that a lot of money is being made and certain PVP alliances are building up unprecedented (i.e., obscenely large) cash reserves. We're talking the sort of cash reserves that can buy a lot of influence, a lot of capital ships, and finance very, very long campaigns. All things being equal, a PVP alliance with vast financial reserves has the edge over an alliance that doesn't. Even if things aren't equal, money is a great equalizer. Deep pockets can off-set disadvantages in other areas.
There's some talk that such alliances, fattened up by eating too much CareBear honey, are no longer in shape for real PVP, that they'll collapse at the first whiff of cordite. Maybe. Some will. Some won't. A lot of that talk seems to be wishful thinking - whistling in the dark of an oncoming storm.
No, I think we're witnessing the beginning of a financial arms race - were fiscal savvy will decide the winners. Look for high quality CareBear corporations to become a much sought after commodity in nullsec. Professional, well-run corporations will be able to take their business anywhere, and will be able to negotiate attractive terms with landlords whose systems they occupy.
In my experience nullsec changes some CareBears. They become a different breed than their high-sec cousins. Tougher. More efficient. More wily. More ruthless. Far richer. The best of them will become the great merchant princes of New Eden.
And PVPers will work for them.