I have been grinding sov for the last several days on Duality with my sov mining laser. I have been trying to catch a glimpse of the real nature of Fozziesov through the mess. This is what I have found from participating in the contest.
The Test Server Is Awful
The nature of test server combat has made the competition farcical. Everything costs 100 ISK, losses mean nothing, and even someone out of ISK can quickly fill their wallet with insurance fraud. Test server tactics involve high grade implants and suiciding wave after wave of ships. You reship as hard as you can and the winner is often the guy with the most endurance.
I was fighting a few guys over a system and they were suiciding a constant flow of trollceptors across the constellation. They died quickly enough, but the process of chasing them around was painful. It would have cost them billions of ISK on Tranquility. I somehow do not think this kind of pure suicide thing, unsupported by any attempt to win the fight, is going to happen in practice. PL will not use Morachas as entosis ships. Brave will not have hundreds of Orthrus with T2 entosis mods to throw away.
The test server is also a terrible environment because the indexes are set to arbitrary values. No one has to rat or mine to build up indexes. (They probably would not on the test server so I do not know what the solution is.) You cannot camp a system to bring its indexes down. Grinding space has been miserable, taking hours to capture undefended, unoccupied systems. Despite this, we do not have an accurate feeling for how much grinding will actually be required.
Slowcats, supers, and titans still win single point fights. They have not been nerfed. Subcaps have not been buffed to be able to kill capitals. What is happening is a reduction in the number of single point conflicts where an immobile wrecking ball wins the day. However there are still numerous single point conflicts: Reinforcing any sov structure for the first time occurs on one grid. Anchoring a new IHUB or TCU involves only that grid. A wrecking ball beats anything else on these grids.
A small change is that wrecking balls will need some ability to kill entosis ships 250 KM off the object. This is likely going to mean that a wrecking ball will need triage carriers and at least a handful of heavily tanked, long-range BS. Dreadnoughts may have the range, but tracking a five klick cruiser is going to be next to impossible for them. A wrecking ball that cannot kill faraway entosis ships will be reduced to impotence no matter how many titans are in the blob.
It is important to acknowledge that a conflict over a wide area can be turned into a single point conflict by hellcamping someone’s undock. We have repeatedly resorted to this strategy, and it has worked. Reserves in other stations can be used, and multiple entities may each have their own staging system, but a hellcamp just sucks for the defenders and makes the attackers lives so much simpler.
Multiple Points of Contention
These fights require mobile subcapital fleets to win. They have an interesting aspect to them. It is best to have the biggest fleet you can and send one ship to every node. However the enemy could send two ships to every node to beat you at each location. In response you send three ships. Four are better than three, and so on. If you take this to its logical conclusion and spread out entirely, the enemy could pull all their guys into one place and beat your piecemeal fleet. There is no perfect ship distribution. You have to constantly respond to what the enemy is doing.
This will require decentralized command and control. It will demand individual pilot skill. There will be a place in the new system for skilled solo pilots, and for lower rank FCs.
I wrote an article about snipers a bit ago. In practice it feels pretty accurate. Blowing away far entosis ships has got the job done repeatedly. Being able to explode fast faraway entosis ships is a virtual requirement of the new system. The only thing that has really changed is that probing snipers and landing a whole fleet on them is going to be harder with the warp changes.
CCP was wrong to think entosis would happen after the fight was decided. Given that stuff is free on the test server, entosis ships are everywhere during all stages of a fight. It is the most effective strategy. Given the depth of 0.0 wallets, I am sure this practice will translate over, although with cheaper ships. We are likely to see roughly 3 types of ships. First will be T1 entosis travel ceptors. Next we are looking at cheap tanky T1 cruisers with T1 entosis. Both of these are roughly on par with the cost of a suicide dictor. There will be faction cruisers with T2 entosis configured to move very quickly. These will be a bit more situational. A key place you might see the later things are when it becomes time to stop a wrecking ball from taking an objective.
We are likely to see this kind of thing being done on an alt while a main participates in the actual fight.
That Does Not Sound So Bad
I have just described a situation where a wrecking ball can be countered by one Orthrus (assuming you kill the ball’s subcapitals). I have described a situation with solo pilots and multiple FCs. It is a place where skill matters and we expect to see a proliferation of types of fleet doctrines. There is not just one best strategy. The system is dynamic in a way that “put as many titans on the field as you can” is not. There are many good points about the system. On paper it seems great, a triumph of design.
I Hate It
Yes all of these things are true. But the part that all of this misses out on, is the character of the system, how it feels. Fighting over sov will be difficult on a level not previously imagined. This does nothing to change the fact that boring your enemies and breaking their morale by killing their fleets is still a go to strategy. In fact weaponized boredom will be joined by weaponized frustration. I have not been as angry at something in EVE as I have in this sov competition for a year or more, and this is the goddamned test server. The system is counterintuitive. Important information is kept away from players intentionally. Running an entosis module for an hour is unengaging, assuming you do not get exploded. It sucks to be the attacker and it sucks to be the defender. The mechanics actively encourage parties to troll each other mercilessly. This is not fun.
Some of the awfulness may be a direct result of the test server. But I am not alone in disliking what I have experienced. Brave have a great deal to say about the situation as well. You know what? I agree with them.
A War of Attrition
The core gameplay, when you look deep into the system, is that attacking has a low barrier of entry, but fighting over a system is a battle of attrition. I call it a battle of attrition because there are always fairly effective ways to oppose the enemy in Fozziesov, except in cases of extreme power disparity. You can snipe entosis ships, form a concentrated blob to kill a detached part of the enemy, or any number of things to resist. You may find yourself slowly losing, but you can make life hell for the other guy and drag it out over a painful number of hours.
Wars of attrition are not known for being glorious or particularly fun. Trench warfare was a battle of attrition. But since none of you were there probably, let me provide another example. It is called the dollar auction. The link provides a solid description. It is an auction for a dollar where the winner pays their bid and the runner up pays their bid. People bid up to a dollar, thinking they are getting a deal. But they realize as they get near a dollar, “If I lose this auction I am down $.99 (or whatever their losing bid was). If I win the auction by bidding $1.01 I get a dollar back, and I am out of $.01. I will bid over a $1.” Bids can get out of control, way beyond $1.The only winner of the dollar auction is the auctioneer. The players are all losers.
That is the bottom line. You are all losers and I am glad that I live in NPC 0.0.
The Best Old Strategies
Ok that might be going a bit too far. There are mathematical solutions to the war of attrition but we do not even need them. To get good solutions we just look to previous sov war. In short, the way to win is to troll the enemy to death, now using all of the levers that Fozzie has provided. Beyond that the old ways of breaking morale, killing the enemy en masse, and discrediting opponents are all great strategies that survive the transition into Fozziesov just fine. Being the attacker sucks. Being the defender is awful. Being the troll is a pretty good times.
Tags: Fozziesov, Mukk, sovereignity, test server