How to Watch the WarNeville Smit
“World War Bee”, the great conflict between Imperium forces and nearly everyone else in New Eden, is raging in the northern regions of null-security space. This war is so large, with many tens of thousands of players involved, that even non-gaming media outlets are reporting about it. Without a doubt, there is a lot of fighting going on in the north, as the diverse array of Money Badger Coalition (MBC) allies tries to wrest control of systems away from the powerful Imperium.
In truth, since the majority of EVE Online players are not active in null security space, a lot of interested observers of the war do not fully understand the mechanics upon which it is based.
It all sounds very exciting. But with all combatants spinning their propaganda machines at full speed, it’s difficult to discern who is actually winning the war. In truth, since the majority of EVE Online players are not active in null security space, a lot of interested observers of the war do not fully understand the mechanics upon which it is based. The news reports about World War Bee speak of timers and I-Hubs and TCUs and Entosis Links and vulnerability windows – it is all very confusing for those unfamiliar with the details of war in 0.0 space. The uninitiated wonder: what does it all really mean?
Intro to Aegis Sov
In the spring and summer of 2015, CCP Games rolled out a series of dramatic revisions to how player alliances can control and hold sovereign territory in null-sec space. The most significant parts of these revisions were released in the Aegis update, so the current sovereignty system is officially called “Aegis sov”. (Note: the blog posts announcing these changes were authored primarily by developer CCP Fozzie, so some players refer to the current system as “Fozziesov”.)
Perhaps more importantly, holding sov also provides the psychological benefit of “planting a flag” in a null-sec system
“Holding sov”, as it is generally known, provides the owners of a system, and their approved allies, with improved returns for their activities in that system. Occupying the system and actively conducting military and industrial operations there also provides special bonuses that make the system more defensible against invaders. Perhaps more importantly, in addition to these advantages, holding sov also provides the psychological benefit of “planting a flag” in a null-sec system, and thus declaring: “This space belongs to us. Try to take it only at your peril.”
Planting the Flag: the TCU
To plant that flag of ownership, a player alliance must deploy a Territorial Claim Unit (TCU). There can be only one TCU deployed in a system. The owner of the TCU is listed as the owner of that system on the game’s starmap.
In addition, all player-owned starbases (POS structures) in the system that are owned by the TCU’s player alliance get a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption.
Developing a System: the I-Hub, System Indices, and ADM
To improve a system and make it more valuable and defensible, owners can deploy an Infrastructure Hub (I-Hub), which allows the system to generate combat anomalies, ore sites and signatures more frequently. Players may then harvest rewards from these locations in the system and generate higher levels of income.
I-Hubs also allow system owners to set up more advanced POS structures, such as Jump Bridges, which act like temporary stargates to nearby systems, and Cynosural System Jammers, which help to prevent others from entering the system through backdoors in space-time from remote locations.
Making an enemy I-Hub explode can be strategically important, since taking one out deactivates Jump Bridges into that system, making it more difficult for defenders to rush reinforcements there.
I-Hubs can be upgraded. Each upgrade to an I-Hub requires a specific upgrade unit to be produced and installed. But I-Hubs may only be upgraded as system indices increase. The three types of system indices are:
- Strategic Index: Automatically increases over time when an alliance maintains control of the I-Hub
- Military Index: Increases in proportion to the number of non-player character (NPC) ships killed in the system, mostly in anomalies and signatures
- Industrial Index: Increases in proportion to the volume of ore mined in the system
As the System Indices increase, they also contribute to an Activity Defense Multiplier (ADM) in the system, which affects how long attackers must engage to capture structures like TCUs and I-Hubs in a system. The higher the ADM, the more time an attacker must dedicate for a successful attack.
Because of their vital importance in establishing control of a system and enhancing its defensibility, wartime attackers in null-sec focus mostly on capturing TCUs and I-Hubs. There also may be other structures in a system, including POSes and stations, which are important for providing safe harbors from which to stage operations.
Setting Windows in Time
Alliances influence when their systems can be attacked to a significant degree by setting a vulnerability window – this window can be set for each structure they control. The length of a vulnerability window is 18 hours divided by the ADM in the system, which produces windows ranging in length from 18 hours to 3 hours.
The vulnerability window allows an alliance to set ranges of time when they are best able to field a sufficient defensive force. This is a significant advantage for defenders of sov space. The Imperium, being a coalition of many large alliances with players located all over the world, has many vulnerability windows set to all hours around the clock.
Capturing TCUs and I-Hubs
One of the biggest changes in Aegis sov was the introduction of the Entosis Link, a ship module that affects structure control. During a structure’s vulnerability period, any player can fly within range and activate an Entosis Link on it. The alliance who owns the structure is notified of the attack so they can respond.
Depending on the ADM of the system, a successful Entosis Link attack can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, if the attack is uncontested. That last point is important, as it means that the defenders can activate one of their own Entosis Links on the structure, and thereby reset the time needed for an uncontested attack. For this reason, Entosis Link attacks often result in significant firefights, as each side tries to clear off any interfering enemy ships.
A ship using an Entosis Link cannot cloak, warp, dock, jump, receive any form of remote assistance, or exceed a velocity of 4,000 meters per second
Using Entosis Links can be tricky. A ship using an Entosis Link cannot cloak, warp, dock, jump, receive any form of remote assistance, or exceed a velocity of 4,000 meters per second. Additionally, as long as just one defender has an active Entosis Link on their structure, all attacking Links will be negated, no matter how many. The only limitation for defenders is that their allies cannot use Entosis Links to help defend their structure directly. From the structure’s perspective, any activated Entosis Link that does not belong to the defending alliance is an attacker.
Entosis Link capture mechanics
One reason why the current war is a real challenge for The Imperium is because the MBC allies are attacking so many places at once. This makes it nearly impossible for Imperium forces to contest all of the Entosis Link attacks.
If the attackers are successful in completing an uncontested Entosis Link attack, the structure enters a reinforced mode, which ends at a random time within the structure’s vulnerability window, two days (48 hours) later.
When the structure comes out of reinforcement mode, a new phase in the capture process begins. Command Node anomalies then spawn at random locations throughout the constellation of that system. Players may then use Entosis Links to put the various Command Notes into reinforcement, as was earlier done to the structure itself. If attackers can successfully capture enough Command Nodes, they then win the attack on the structure, and the TCU or I-Hub explodes. Any alliance may then deploy their own replacement structure.
Capture Process for TCUs and I-Hubs
For stations in a system, the capture process works the same as for TCUs and I-Hubs, but with two important differences.
First, after an attacker is successful capturing a sufficient number of Command Nodes, the station does not explode. Rather, it goes into Freeport Mode for two days (48 hours) which means that anyone can dock in the station.
At that point, a second set of Command Nodes is generated at random throughout the constellation. The Alliance that captures enough of these Command Nodes becomes the full owner of the station.
Capture Process for Stations
For a quick summary of basic sov mechanics, see this video produced by CCP Games:
Tracking War Progress
Aegis sov requires successful execution of a series of attacks and capture events for each structure in a system. How does an observer keep track of all the comings and goings, to see the ebb and flow of the war?
For the casual observer, two resources are very useful:
- TimerBoard (https://timerboard.net/) is a handy utility for tracking all of the various timers for TCUs, I-Hubs and Stations. To see the status of timers for the two sides of World War Bee, use this link: https://timerboard.net/WorldWarBee
- Dotlan (http://evemaps.dotlan.net/map) keeps track of what systems are contested, and is useful for visualizing how the war is progressing. To see how the MBC is faring in taking systems away from The Imperium, view Dotlan’s maps for Vale of the Silent, Tribute, Tenal, Branch, Pure Blind, Fade and Deklein. You will also need to learn the ticker symbols for the various alliances. The names and ticker symbols of the principal sov holding alliances in the Imperium are:
- Goonswarm Federation (CONDI)
- The Initiative. (INIT.)
- Fidelas Constans (FCON)
- Spacemonkey’s Alliance (SMA)
- Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT)
- Executive Outcomes (EXEC)
- Get Off My Lawn (LAWN)
- The Bastion (BASTN)
- RAZOR Alliance (-RZR-)
I’ve covered only the critical aspects of Aegis sov in this overview – there are many finer details involved. But for those who just want to understand what is going on in the north better, the explanations here should provide you with a sufficient awareness of the essential mechanics.
Enjoy the war!