Alpha Clones: Factional War or Farmland Woe?


New Eden is in a state of turmoil with all of the changes that have been announced recently. Off -grid boosts will soon be a thing of the past, industrial arrays are coming, and perhaps most intriguingly, Alpha clones will offer new players a chance to enjoy EVE for free, indefinitely.

This last piece of news struck me more than any others, because I help run a new player corporation and community called Black Shark Cult [-JAWS]. Our mission is to take in people who are new to PvP and introduce them to the joy and terror of small gang PvP in lowsec. More often than not, our recruits are new to EVE, and many have only created their characters a few days ago. We do everything we can to inspire them to get them to be social, to undock, and to engage other players, before they have the chance to become disenchanted with EVE – which is what happens all too quickly if they stay in high security space on their own.

When you are new to EVE, the warring factions are some of the first things the game tells you about

Black Shark Cult is a Factional Warfare corporation (Caldari militia), because we realized that many new players spontaneously gravitate towards Factional Warfare. When you are new to EVE, the warring factions are some of the first things the game tells you about, and because this conflict is so recognizable, many players spontaneously decide to check it out very early on in their careers. As a result, being in one of the militias gives us a constantly replenished pool of new players to recruit from, fleet up with, and generally hang out with in our PvP-oriented community.

As a new player organization – a small one, granted, but growing nicely, thank you very much – we immediately started making plans for an influx of Alpha Clones into Factional Warfare. You can imagine our excitement, as our newbie-friendly ship fittings would work fine within Alpha Clone limitations, and Factional Warfare in itself presents a great environment for teaching PvP in an instantly recognizable and easily understandable setting. Factional Warfare really is quite easy for new players to get to grips with.

For example, in just a few words, we can point our members to a realistic source of income through plexing and mission running (LP). When our new Sharkies go roaming, it’s instantly clear who is the enemy (“let’s go blow up that Gallente scum!”) and who your allies are. And what’s more, the individual actions of our newest members immediately have an impact on the warzone map – making players understand and appreciate that in EVE, losing or winning a fight actually matters.

For all these reasons, I firmly believe that no other part of EVE is more enticing and easily accessible to a new player than Factional Warfare.

However, not all is well in the war zone.


The current Factional Warfare mechanics provide an ideal environment for AFK (or semi-AFK) farming. Hundreds of low-skilled alts are used across the warzones every day to run plexes warp core stabbed frigates, with very little to no risk to the farmer. If a war target comes into the plex to attack the farmer, they can warp off thanks to the warp core stabs, or even simply shrug off the loss, because the rewards of plexing for a militia in Tier 4 or 5 are huge. Even if you lose a few cheaply fitted frigates or destroyers in the process, a couple of hours of semi-AFK defensive plexing will easily make 50 million ISK.

Because the farming alts always follow the side that offers the best LP payouts, fighting back as a militia becomes very difficult…

a major psychological let-down that diminishes the engagement level of our new EVE players

But most important of all, the fact that they encounter so many obvious farming alts is a major psychological let-down that diminishes the engagement level of our new EVE players.

Many people have talked, blogged or otherwise discussed the importance of story and lore to attract and hook new players. Well, let me tell you what we saw these past six months – nothing takes away the “EVE is real” fire in our newbros’ eyes like finding out that the fleet you ran for three hours with your new corp friends, where you chased off and maybe even killed some war targets, did not make any lasting progress in system control because during the quiet hours pre-downtime a bunch of AFK farming alts simply undid all of your work. Similarly, nothing does as much to take away the pride and joy of your very first solo kill – a career milestone as big as any – as figuring that it’s actually an AFK, unfit Atron. It breaks the suspension of disbelief for new and old players alike.

And what’s more, it even goes against one of the core principles of EVE, the fabled “risk vs. reward” game design philosophy. A Factional Warfare alt that farms plexes in 400K ISK frigates is as low risk as you can get, but the rewards are on par with Incursion running and all but the most optimized nullsec ratting. And remember, you’re not risking a battleship or faction fit Ishtar; no, you’re flying (if you can even call it that) a half-fit Merlin.

So what should be done? Easy: fix Factional Warfare, CCP. There, done!


Now, you may ask – is it that easy? Why yes. Over the years, many people from various backgrounds, from experienced bittervets to novice players, have raised possible solutions. CSM members have made proposals that have been discussed and all but beaten to death: make offensive plexing an activity that needs piloting by buffing the faction NPCs that spawn; implement (partial) rollbacks of timers when you warp out; increase the LP payouts for killing war targets; revise the Tier system so that farmers are less likely to massively shift to one of the factions; add “front line” mechanic that rewards fighting over strategic systems; and so on.

None of these ideas are new, I’ll grant you that. So why the urgency? Why write yet another plea to CCP to fix something?

Alpha Clones. November. That’s why.

in Bob’s name, let’s get rid of the farming problem

Because we want to present the masses of new players who will discover EVE with the best possible experience. Factional Warfare is “prime real estate” for the new player experience, so in Bob’s name, let’s get rid of the farming problem. Everyone has known it needed to be done at some point, and that point is now.

Let’s turn the legendary conflict between the warring factions into it one of the key aspects of the game that improves the retention rate of new players. Let’s get rid of the farming alts that slowly leech the life out of the war zone, and replace them with a horde of wide-eyed, bloodthirsty Alpha clone capsuleers who madly rush at each other in their shitfit tech one frigates, eager for the kill.

EVE will be a better place for it.


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Tags: Alpha clones, Clone States, Factional Warfare, Lynx Artrald

About the author

Lynx Artrald

Lynx has been in EVE since 2014 and has his roots in EVE University. Nowadays he is active in Factional Warfare and leads small bands of Caldari Militia or does solo work.

  • J Rosen

    I agree they need to do something, however, one of your suggestions is a bad one. The suggestion to buff the faction NPC is poor. I remember when you had to fight waves of NPCs when you entered a plex. The issue was, if you landed on an offensive plex and someone was in there you had to ask yourself if you could take them and the NPCs at the same time. There were other times I would be fighting the NPCs and have to bail when an enemy showed up on a fight I would usually take simply due to the fact I hadn’t cleared the NPCs yet.

    CCP, if I remember correctly, went to single low dps, high tank enemies. That became an issue simply because you couldn’t roam in a single ship type. If you roamed in a frigate you had issues taking out the cruisers of the medium plex (forget about the BS of the large) and if you went in cruisers you were locked out of the small plex.

    My favorite option is the front line mechanic. Have plexes only spawn in systems that are adjacent to an enemy system. This would prevent plex farmers from working the back end systems that sees maybe 3 people a day. Also, as the map gets taken, you would see several fronts form as there are multiple HS entry points into the war zone. Timer rollbacks are also good.

    • Lynx Artrald

      I don’t claim to be anywhere near experienced enough to have the perfect answer here – but I know that people with more insight and understanding of the mechanics have suggested many things in the CSM etc in the past.
      The front line mechanic does sound intriguing doesn’t it? It might help draw more fights and discourage AFK farming, *and* it would make lots more sense to a new player – better for the immersion into the story.

    • Takashi

      I like your suggestion at the end there. Adjacent systems to the enemy systems to spawn plex would really work effectively I feel. It would force a war front and you could fly to the front and know that the enemy is ready to fight you next door. Good suggestion!

  • allmappedout

    Another suggestion off the back of a reddit thread in relation to FW dplex farming and the tiering system. (

    One way to counterbalance duplexing is to only be able to d-plex after, say, 50% and by warping to a hostile beacon that begins to appear in system (eg: to represent creeping influence) after that point. It encourages oplexing up to a certain point, and forces dplexers to go to contested areas rather than farming low contested sites, and means that dplexing is actually just a different kind of oplexing.

    Furthermore, it means that the dplexers have to be combat fit in order to deal with an offensive rat, which negates a large amount of the problem (which is that you don’t actually have to do Anything to deplex).

    I think you’d have to have some sort of slow natural decay on plexed systems so that they did drop back under 50% if unplexed by attackers (similar to entosis regen I guess), but maybe only 1-2% per day natural decay.

  • slowdive

    enjoyed the article!

    • Lynx Artrald


  • Roedyn

    To ask for change is good. But the current active population of low sec in general and designated faction warfare space is far too low when compared to null sec and hisec to reasonably devote proper dev resources. It is likely that it will not be looked at unless it is clearly identified as a reason why the new alphas choose to just walk away or not bother to upgrade to omegas.

    A For Profit company must focus its resources in activities that will earn it profit, especially when it already has a hard time devoting its current developer assets or hiring new ones.


      indeed, and this writer is expressing a potential -and quite realistic- roadblock to alphas ‘pulling out their credit cards.’ Too often companies are reactive in their business plans. Here is an opportunity to be proactive. On the down side “fixing” FW is now where as simple a proposition as the writer indicates. A few of the things have been tried. Tougher rats in ‘plexes, was tried, did reduce farming, but also where a bit too hard to kill. Warp out time roll back. -Noooo- I agree that FW needs some fixing. Sadly, that is likely going to require a multi-expansion iterative process to figure out. Will CCP dedicate the resources? As expressed above, I doubt it. But great article, and inaction on CCP’s part is no reason to stop brainstorming for good ideas. I don’t think the true solution has been hit upon yet, but I know its out there.

  • Jare

    Im not a fw pilot, but no LP gain or sov gain( or whatever you call it) with wcs fit sound good?

  • naye666

    Cry me a river 🙂

  • Peter

    It’s not that easy. I quite often plex and what are you suppose to do when someone comes with 4 to 3 guys to kill you? Or with a far more potent ship than yours? You got run away, you seriously don’t have any other choice. I just suggest for them to remove the possibility of any combat ship, no matter its size, being able to use warp core stabs.

    Combat ships are made for combat, never understood why they can fit warp core stabs.