Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On CCP Fozzie's "delayed signatures" idea

I've been reading some of the comments on Fozzie's post about delaying signatures when spawning a new WH. Many have strong opinions one way or the other, few try to think through what the suggested change actually would implicate.

One reasonable opinion is that this is only going to favour the ones that can, and regularly do, field fleets of 20 T3s - hence, if you can you also are pro change, if you can't you are against it. I think that might have some truth to it, but it's missing the point.

What would happen? That's the important question to ask. And after that; Would we like the effect the change to the mechanics would have? Here is my view on the whole thing.

First off; there's no question this would make rolling holes for targets much, much easier and rewarding. The chance of finding someone to gank will increase massively by implementing them. Depending on the size of the delay, you could argue that it would basically mean that "in w-space anyone can de-cloak and attack you at any time, and they will usually have friends in warp when they do" Hence, the risk/reward ratio is pushed up significantly. People will start losing their PVE ships, and to do PVE content in w-space will mean to take this into account. One must remember that since the effectiveness of the combat-rolling of WH's gets a huge buff, these operations will be massively more common.

Higher risk/reward means harder to get to loot/salvage, which means higher price on sleeper-salvage. This will offset the effect to some degree, at least in lower class systems. A 50% increase in price of nano ribbons is a huge thing for the Drake in the C2, but hardly noticeable for the guys doing cap-escalations in a C5.

When the risk/reward ratio is changed, people will adapt by doing things differently, but more importantly flying different ships. Today, you can find marauders and T3s plexing C3s and C4s. Why? Because they are just a little bit more effective than your vanilla Drake. That is, as long as you don't take their price into account. With the proposed change, that equation is totally re-written. In C3s, you would only see Drakes and maybe battleships, all other ships is just too expensive to lose compared to the income.

In C4s today, top income from running plexes probably comes from dual-boxing battleships; Domis and Rattlers are popular, but also Marauders and even Nestors. This will most likely change. Depending on how quick PVP groups will take up rolling static C4s, the risk/reward is going to favour cheaper ships even in C4s. I can afford to lose my two Rattlers more than twice as often as my two Paladins. If I can afford to use them at all is going to be dependant on the amount of C4 rolling that's going on, ie. how often I get rolled while plexing.

Now, another way to change the risk/reward is to try and make your PVE ships harder to kill, maybe even a bit dangerous to attack in the first place. Having more people and bigger fleets is obviously better. Taking out a single guy/girl plexing alone in a Drake hardly takes a fleet at all, just the right ship. Attacking three of them in a system full of PVP ships that might, or might not, be on standby would be a slightly different matter.

The suggested change is such a game changer, we will certainly see new tactics and behaviour. Who knows, if the rolling gets common enough, folks might actually start plexing as bait. It might be easier to wait for somebody to find you and then counter-drop on them than to roll for plexers yourself? To tackle two Paladins is one thing, to tackle two Paladins, three cloaked Protei, a neuting Legion and three Guardians hidden in a neighbouring system is, again, a whole different matter.

Here is where the big difference between C5/C6 and lower class w-space becomes interesting. The risk/reward rule apply to C5/C6 as well, but since the escalations are so efficient, and can be run by so few people, it have become the only game in town for how to make ISK. If you live in a C5, you farm your sleepers this way, period. Any other way simply can't get close to the ISK/time/person ratio of quad escalations. The extreme might be three guys running 6-8 ships, doing 4 sites per hour. This would translate roughly to 1B/h per person. More common however, is solo-farmers using three accounts taking longer to do the sites, but still using the escalation mechanics to reach very high ISK/time numbers.

With the suggested change, both these extremes will also become extremely risky. There's no problem for any of the larger C5 groups to design, and field a fleet that will fit through a 3B wormhole and that would slaughter any small escalation-fleet in safety. The key word there, however, is "small". While there's a hard limit to the amount of capitals you can take with you, the inhabitants could possibly field as many caps as they have pilots for at any given time. Therefore the change would hurt small scale (few people, small groups) much more than larger groups, that just could trade ISK/time efficiency for security by simply involving more people in the plexing. Just the fact that you belong to a larger group and have a lot of afk'ers hanging at towers will increase the risk for the attackers. Hence, if you would like to solo-escalate with your four accounts you better do that as a member of a dragon, and not in your own, private little C5.

With the drastically increased risk of losing a cap-fleet, the risk/reward might just become skewed so far that the only ones you will see running escalations are the large ones. For smaller gangs, the equation might look better just running Marauders. If you start losing your cap fleet ever so often, the 300M/h you typically get from doing non-escalated C5's with marauder(s) will sound like a bargain. Or somebody will come up with a totally new way of killing sleepers that's a result of the suggested change, and takes the increased risk into account.

Personally, I'm not taking a stance at all. If the change becomes reality, w-space will change at it's core. Is it a good thing? Don't know. Adapt or die, I guess. The only thing I think might be an issue is if this will favour large corporations unreasonably more than small ones. Forcing the solo-farmers out of business I would not mind, but it would be a pity if the net effect would be even larger, or fewer, dragons.

1 comment:

  1. I would agree at "no stance" since... Since every side has it's benefits. Of course, carebears are gonna cry, PVPers will celebrate. Maybe solo farmers shouldn't be in WHs at all... Who knows what CCP thinks about it. Any change in EVE is always accompanied by phrases like: "What was before - better"