Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Leading Indicators

To a certain extent, all the rage over micro-transactions and melting video cards has played well for the Drone Russian Forces. While the rest of New Eden watched in slack-jawed fascination as CCP's public relations department reenacted the Hindenburg disaster, the Drone Russians went quietly about consolidating their holds on territorial gains from the Northern Coalition wars.

Having added former Northern Coalition territory to their already swollen real estate portfolio, the various members of the Drone Russian Forces seem to be taking somewhat different courses in exploiting their new holdings.

Legion of Death alone possesses 311 nullsec systems; 216 of them by way of Shadow of Death, Legion's renter alliance. As of this writing Shadow of Death's member count hovers at around 6,500, an uptick of about a thousand members since the beginning of June. Meanwhile the Legion of Death alliance proper has increased its membership only slightly, indicating a desire on the part of their leadership to remain lean and avoid alliance-bloat, despite the broad swath of territory they now have to defend. 

White Noise, on the other hand, appears to be taking the opposite approach. Their White Angels renter alliance has slumped from roughly 1,700 members in mid-May to about 580 members in control of only 10 systems, most of them in Wicked Creek.

The roll-back of the White Angels renter alliance began when Against All Authorities reclaimed Teneferis, a region White Noise had seeded with renters. White Noise seems to have made no attempts to relocate those renters or replace their numbers. Even as the White Noise star has risen, the population of their renter alliance has continued to fall off, with most of its membership moving to the other DRF renter alliances Shadow of Death, Red Citizens and Solar Wing.

Note too, the difference in the territorial footprint of these two DRF alliances. Whereas Legion of Death has stations scattered across eight regions, White Noise appears to have traded off space in order to consolidate their holdings primarily in two regions: Branch and Vale of the Silent. While Vale is a patchwork of DRF and vassal alliances, Branch appears to be largely White Noise's show, shared only with Mostly Harmless who occupy a small cluster of systems. presumably at White Noise's behest.

The population changes in the two alliances, accompanied by their geographic differences, suggest two alliances pursuing opposite strategies in terms of occupying and exploiting their nullsec space.

Legion of Death appears to be following an approach very much in line with the the current Dominion Sov/Supercapital paradigm. They have undertaken to defend a large and far-flung territory using a lean, highly mobile force based on a strong supercapital fleet. Their territory is largely occupied by renter and vassal alliances who provide Legion of Death with a vast income flow which is, in turn, used to purchase the supercapitals and the other wherewithal needed to deliver an overwhelming advantage when defending or expanding their space.

White Noise, on the other hand, may be anticipating an end to the Dominion Sov/Supercapital paradigm. They are adopting a territorial footprint that allows them a reasonably compact area of space to defend, and a larger body of PvP forces with which to defend it. This would make sense if they are anticipating a reduction in the range and mobility of supercapital ships and jump ships in general. Such a change would likely leave an alliance with diffused holdings unable to respond quickly or effectively, even given a large and well funded supercapital fleet.

White Noise seems to be deliberately reducing the size of their renter alliance as well, which may indicate a move away from that model altogether. This might indicate that they've found a means of exploiting their space that yield significant revenues without the burden of administering space for a a loose collection of renter corporations. Short internal lines of communication, logistics and defense would reduce their outlays in those areas and thus their income needs. In essence, not having a vast renter empire reduces the need to pay for its defense and upkeep, allowing for a more efficient financial and logistic model.

White Noise appears to be planning for changes to the game that will punish alliances that depend on long range mobility and spend alliance resources maintaining far-flung renter empires. It may be that White Noise has received early word on said changes and is optimizing their operations in anticipation of them.

If that assumption is true, it's interesting that Legion isn't following a similar course. This would suggest that either this intelligence hasn't been shared with Legion of Death, or Legion is disinclined to act on it.


  1. Don't expect any nerf to supercap mobility soon. CCP will do a heavy-handed nerf to supercaps that either a) makes them as useless as they were before or b) makes them only slightly less useful than they are now. Titans won't be touched, nor will Carriers and Dreads. If anything, Dreads need a jump range boost.

    Additionally, an interesting point on supercap mobility that has been raised in a Kugu thread on the issue: on moving day, Pandemic Legion spends 50 billion ISK on fuel to move all of their jump-capable ships. This tells us two things: 1) PL has too many capitals and 2) fuel is expensive, limiting mobility for the little guy but not affecting the large alliance.

    And finally, one reason that White Noise. has reduced its holding is their new Technetium ISK fountain. Tech will probably get the nerf soon, too, but CCP being CCP, they'll just introduce another highly profitable bottleneck. Hell, they might even add special moons to DRF space as an "incentive" to get people to invade the DRF. Much like Tech was supposed to be all those years ago...

  2. To clarify my first point: that is supercarriers, not all supercaps.

  3. I think there is a third explanation for what White Noise is doing. They have never been a big multi-region spawler like the rest of the DRF alliances. No insider information--just White Noise being White Noise. Their renters, like all renters, want quiet systems to ply their trade. Tribute and Branch have still been too hot for industry, have no sov for jump bridges, and are a long way to relocate. For many, it was easier to just jump into Shadow of Death and grab one of their infinite number of empty systems and continue life undisturbed.

    For now, no one is going to attack White Noise space, and their PVPers need something to do. I expect White Noise will maintain fleets in the south to help keep AAA from going too far. They will also make strikes into Deklein and Pure Blind just to keep everyone there in defense mode while they make Branch and Vale more hospitable for renters. Since Geminate has been in DRF hands longer, you can already see how Raiden. has quieted everything down and is already begging for renters to occupy their systems.

    I will again point out that the fall of the NC was supposed to bring more PVP opportunities. With over 70% of nullsec now owned by the same alliance, I wonder how content people are with the amount of PVP now. I made 16 jumps down the former NC main pipe from Branch to Tribute and saw people in only 2 systems, for a total of six pilots. Branch and Tenal now look very much like The Spire and Cache--huge swathes of space unused and unavailable "for the little guys." Of course, the little guys could always rent for Raiden.

    Mord, I wonder what your population and density chart will look like in a month.