One of the buzzwords that’s been floating around nullsec the past few years is that it’s become stagnant. I wrote a few weeks ago about the public perception of activity in nullsec, and the myth that activity ceases when sovereignty wars aren’t being fought. The article itself is a message to those who continue to shout from the sidelines with their usual rhetoric trying to push a false narrative to anyone that will listen that nothing goes on in nullsec. I also briefly mentioned mentioned one of the principal reasons preventing a hypothetical massive N3/PL vs. CFC sov war is the shitty Dominion sov mechanics.
Of course, that isn’t the sole reason preventing such a large war, but it is a major one.
My colleague Tarek Raimo took issue with that last weekend, and published an article suggesting that GSF and PL are conveniently using Dominion as an excuse to not engage. In it he cited that blocs dated back before the Dominion expansion, and that structure grinds were always a part of sovereignty warfare. He also stated that the incentive to create large empires was based off the meta and not the in-game mechanics. By the end he suggests that it’s up to the null powers themselves to enact any change within the perceived state of nullsec.
He’s right about one thing; alliances working together predated the Dominion expansion. Groups of EVE players have been working together since before sovereignty was introduced so the point is fairly moot. I read his piece several times and I strongly disagree with his overall message.
So why is Dominion being blamed by the people in power?
Sovereignty was originally determined by the alliance with the most control towers in a system. How tough it was to take a system was determined by the defender; mismanaging tower timers could make a system fall quickly. Each tower only having a single timer meant that you could also kite them, giving yourself an opportunity to avoid any timers in your weakest timezones. The alliances that adapted to the kiting timer meta did very well, so in a conflict where both sides had different timezone strengths the fundamental advantage went to the attacker. Outnumbered forces could still do things like cynojam systems with Titans and use their AOE doomsdays, but for the most part by the end of the POS system the attackers had the advantage if they were competent enough.
Dominion changed that by giving the defender the inherent advantage. Instead of one type of structure to shoot before you could capture you now had several; each with their own corresponding timers. This means that any null entity needs to have the ability to force project from any timezone, pushing out the smaller guy and making it an absolute necessity to work with the larger ones. As we found out in the past five years, the groups that adapted to this survived and the ones who didn’t died or became irrelevant.
More timers meant that more organized and heavier firepower would be required. Capitals started becoming much more prevalent as the subcap players started running out of things to train for. Alliance level income gradually started to boom; alliances became better at making money and could now start buying Titans and Supercarriers to make the structure grinds go that much faster. Thanks to a much larger presence of botting and rogue drone alloys and compounds, mineral prices crashed to such low prices that the big toys could be had quicker and cheaper. The growing arms race further pushed out the little guy. If you don’t have the supercaps, you sure as shit need to be friends with someone who does.
If it wasn’t bad enough, newer entities have a near zero chance of getting qualified field commanders to join their ranks. FCs are worth their considerable weight in gold, and are one of the most finite professions within EVE. Your only chance is to develop your own, and yet you have no opportunity to gain the experience necessary to do that without being under the umbrella of someone else. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions, but generally speaking this is something that’s been true for a while now. Developing fleet doctrines is tricky without the necessary experience, and getting low skillpoint recruits to switch into them is at best a crapshoot.
The meta has also advanced to such a point that organizations have become so complex that constant micromanagement is needed if you don’t have a hefty leadership. This leads to considerable burnout on the handful of people responsible dealing with the mundane everyday tasks, and is more often than not the reason new alliances croak after a while. Even alliances that make it into the ranks of the coalitions aren’t immune to this; your workload will skyrocket even more once you’re in.
So now you start to see why the younger, newer alliances have to gravitate towards the larger and more experienced entities in nullsec, and why the older guys need the younger alliances. It’s just the way nullsec has evolved. Did large groups exist before Dominion? Yes. Did Dominion exacerbate it to ridiculous levels? Absolutely.
So we’re now at a point in time where most of the smaller independent entities have been killed off and absorbed by the large blocs. Both N3/PL and the CFC are so large and complex they’re relatively even in their force projection (don’t misinterpret that as same size before someone inevitably loses their shit) that a potential massive sov war would most likely go to the defender, one of the reasons why I believe the HBC and CFC did not engage.
Historically, null entities go to war over financial reasons, threats along a border, or territorial ambitions. Yet a hypothetical invasion of either bloc’s space for any of those reasons is unlikely unless the mechanics of EVE change in a significant way. Both sides have ISK, both sides are not under threat on their borders, and neither side wants to expand their space. So the only real incentive to do so currently is under the basis of narrative, which no one in power in null gives a shit about.
Will the war eventually happen? Probably. Just not under the Dominion mechanics.
Tags: cfc, dominion, hvac, n3, PL, sov