Monday, October 15, 2012


In the last month I've begun no less than five new posts, only to get distracted by RL and see the each nascent post go OBE, or overcome by events.  So, first of all, my apologies for being MIA. It's not you. It's me.

I've been reconnecting with my inner capsuleer. I've been making a point of logging into the game for an hour or so each day. I do humble things for the most part; run a mission or two, or do a bit of solo mining to try out the new(ish) barge/exhumer configurations. I've been looking at changes to the means of production, studying inflation in the markets and doing a little market mischief when I find the price for items far exceed the cost to produce them.  Thinking about rejoining FW for a bit to see what the changes of the last year and a half in that area have wrought.  I've ticked up my management skills to the point where I can create an alliance if the occasion calls for it.

I've kept my eye on nullsec and am pleased to see some things are moving along as planned there. Some surprises as well, such as the loyalty buy-out at Red Overlord.  Still, surprises have become the exception rather than the rule in that corner of New Eden. Nullsec wars are lumbering heavyweights leaning one against the other and throwing super-capital fueled hay-makers. There is a fix for this, albeit one that won't be popular with those who benefit from the status quo.

Recall what I wrote over a year ago in 'The Wealth of Nullsec':
Suppose however, just suppose, that every nullsec region was as resource poor as Providence. No Sanctum anomalies. No Technetium moons. Wealth to be had, of course, but diffused wealth that doesn't create disincentives to every activity but ratting, CTAs and building supercapitals

"But Mord," you say, "If you turn off the big isk faucets, how will my alliance fund a replacement if I lose my supercapital?"

There are days when I feel a bit like Cassandra. Or a climatologist.

The fulcrum of New Eden's current difficulties is the supercapital. Period. Full stop. The game is not out of balance because of the Dominion sov rules. It's not out of balance because highsec stations are too efficient at refining and manufacturing. It's not out of balance because of Technetium, Jump Freighters, or monster nullsec coalitions.  Those are secondary issues - echoes of and reverb from supercapital proliferation.

Supercapital proliferation is not only a problem in Eve, it is the problem in Eve.

And it is a self-reinforcing problem. As the inventory of supercapitals in game gets larger, the subset of organizations who can build or afford to buy them in sufficient quantities to take and hold nullsec space becomes smaller.  It is no longer enough to have a stable of five or ten supercapitals at one's disposal in order to take and hold nullsec sovereignty.  Oh, no. One must have them in available in the hundreds if one is to play with the big dogs of nullsec; the only way to defend against a supercapital fleet remains to have and be willing to deploy an even bigger supercapital fleet. Thus, small nullsec entities must throw in with their larger brethren, forming ever larger alliances and coalitions in order to compete for their share of space.

In order to pull the plug on supercapital proliferation, CCP needs to tackle nullsec's ISK faucets head on rather than tinkering around their edges. As Poetic Stanziel pointed out, if ISK faucets aren't pouring an inordinate amount of money down upon nullsec alliances, those alliances are called upon to make tough choices. Gobbling up every system within reach is no longer the hands-down strategy.  Supercapital losses will not be quite so easily replaced. Alliances will have to tighten their belts or find other ways of generating income; say developing nullsec markets and industrial infrastructure.

CCP Greyscale's justification for large-bore ISK faucets in nullsec has been that, because they generate so much money, they would encourage conflict and act as a brake on large scale alliances and coalitions.  As many bloggers wrote at the time, he completely disregarded the fact that, given the cost of supercapitals needed to take and hold these faucets, those who possessed them would be immune to losing them from external pressures alone. In retrospect, what was needed to achieve the goal of small nullsec holdings was an across-the-board reduction of resources.  Scarcity of resources is a much more potent driver of conflict than nullsec's current economy which actually creates an incentive for large coalitions.

Of course, as income pools shrink, those already in possession of large supercapital fleets and reserves would be positioned to be big winners in nullsec.  However this can be made self-correcting over time. First of all, reduced income would mean less easy money for buying supercapitals which should begin to reduce demand for the ships, particularly among alliances that already have an overabundance of them.That in turn should put marginal producers out of the supercapital building business.

Further, if the easy income potential of nullsec systems decreases sufficiently, risking the supercapitals needed to take and hold them them will be a less attractive option. This would reduce the ships' utility as a credible threat.  Faced with reduced revenues, alliances holding large reserves of ships that deliver reduced utility but have a considerable cash value will have an incentive to liquidate some of that stockpile off in order to finance ongoing operations and infrastructure.

Finally, CCP needs to make it possible for subcapital fleet to kill a supercap. There are a number of options that come to mind, including the Death Strike Missile proposed by Kirith Kodachi; a New Eden version of the 'Long Lance' torpedo fitted for specialized subcaps which, given sufficient numbers, could take down a Titan or Supercarrier.  Supercapitals should be vulnerable if deployed without proper subcapital support, much in the way modern aircraft carriers are vulnerable if deployed without their supporting task force; and not merely to capital class ships and above. The absence of supercapital vulnerability to subcapital fleets is a key driver of supercapital proliferation, and it needs to be addressed.

Of course, this will not sit well with the current masters of nullsec who have grown accustomed to easy money and spending with abandon.  Likewise, supercapital pilots, long coddled by CCP's design team, will be (oh, shall we say) displeased at this assault on their august status as nullsec alliance gotta-haves. As both are heavily represented in the CSM and enjoy much influence with the CCP design teams, I don't expect these proposals to go very far.  However given the direction of the game, both CCP and the members of the CSM must choose a course for nullsec:  

Change, or OBE.


  1. The current CSM has made and supported proposals for both anti-capital subcaps as well as efforts to directly target supercapital proliferation, such as research into eliminating mineral compression. There hasn't been any pushback from the other CSM members that do own supercapitals, either.

    So the issue isn't lack of political support, its just that CCP has had plans for a while now for the Winter expansion to be about tackling the second half of the core systems affecting conflict in Empire space. Hopefully with the coming Spring expansion there will be a renewed focus on 0.0 warfare and things like supercapital proliferation can be addressed at that time.

    1. Excellent. I'll see if I can hunt down the references in the CSM minutes.

      Mind, the large bore ISK faucets in nullsec still exist as a SC proliferation enabler. I know there's been some tinkering with Technetium, but that's one tree in a forest....

  2. While I agree with the facts and sentiment of your post, as TEST recently strolled into Delve, Querious & Period Basis with the ease of a hot knife through butter and are now in the position of not being able to afford to keep it, do you think CCP are really paying attention to Nul-Sec or are they concentrating on the next 'Plex' advert?

  3. Well i don't think it is the small guy flying his anomalies who is your big isk faucet. I run a small to mid size corp and with a pretty average tax rate there is about 100m ISK per day through ratting taxes.

    If you take one technetium moon it generates roughly 240m isk per day. It is not a faucet but it redistributes the hard earned money of the small guy to the large sov holding powerbloc which protects its moons with an s-cap fleet to crush your dreads an carrier within minutes. but Remember, it is not hard to kill a Supercarrier fleet, you only need 15 or 16 titans, so not very much don't you think?

    Beside the heavy moon-isk-redistribution there is another big mistake: Renting. As you stated a small entity can't protect it self against those large blobs therefore you have many small corps renting space for a few billions a month. Entire regions just rented out because the holder didn't want to use it nor he needs to use it since he gets enough income else where. Raising the concord fee wouldn't work as it is just passed down.

    And than, there is sov. war. Small gangs are fun and many are around but you can't threaten sov with 30-50 people. (unless all in scaps) Mechanics that allow small gangs to grind down sov without structure bashing would help small guerilla tactics to have influnce far deeper than just scaring of renters. It shouldn't fall over night but within weeks of not getting countered sov would finally drop. Starting with isk bounty bleeding that the attacking forces get X% of the bounty made in systems.

    once smaller entities can exist in 0.0 space outside of npc 00 without just beeing blobed out you might see a change in this extralarge blueball parties.

  4. OBE ?

    Order of the British Empire i.e., being Knighted ?

    I'll take that instead of the Change. (assuming its the change under the couch you're looking for)

  5. Hmm, it's actually quite a tricky issue.

    Simply breaking nullsec so all the goons go play World of Tanks and the rest of us move to high sec to mine veld and run level 4s would build a worse Eve.

    Few of us in nullsec are here for the money. The way to pursue money, as Jester has said a lot recently is to chase the Fotm. 2 years ago it was nullsec anomalies, last year high sec incursions, this year FW plexing.

    Regarding supercaps and titans it's broken that they're not in play. We should be seeing them out fighting and getting blown up. Eve is essentially a system for blowing stuff up and building it. Part of the stagnation in null comes simply from the issue that once build these ships practically never die.

    1. The changes proposed shouldn't make nullsec untenable for any existing residents thereof. If will, however, put practical limits on the amount of territory they can effectively control.

      I've resided in nullsec both pre and post anomalies nerf and nobody there is crying poverty. Easy ISK remains the order of the day. The sheer volume of ISK sloshing around in alliance coffers is a key contributor to supercapital proliferation.

    2. Nerfs always have an effect on participation because some people are camels waiting for that last straw.

      For instance one way that alliances might cope with reduced moon income is to tax miners. For miners struggling with borderline burnout they might see a tax hike as a sign that it's time to play GW2 instead.

      You're not wrong, there is easy money around in null. But people will still burn out and leave if CCP make their lives harder or the fotm will move from nullsec. Which would be a shame because nullsec and wh space should be the top end of Eve in my opinion, not high sec incursions or low sec FW plexing and not whatever replaces them next.