Power Projection (Part 1)Forlorn Wongraven
A long debated point in the meta of Eve Online is power projection. Due to the rise of supercapital and capital fleets the focus often points to the jump drive functionality of those shiptypes. However in Eve’s medieval times there was already power projection without capitals and the ~3000 active supercapitals from the last 12 months. All methods counter each other, none is risk free, none is an “I-win” button, all are an ISK sink. And yet people often forget that logistics tend to rely almost solely on whatever projection is available at any one time.
In Autumn 2008, my first corporation joined a small ATLAS pet alliance called DEFI4NT, who lived way down at the end of the universe in a region called Omist. As my own capabilities to move my ships were non-existent I relied, as many other pilots in the corp, on four individuals that had carriers. DEFI4NT had no standings with AAA, who at that time lived in the regions between Empire and Omist. A route through ATLAS space was so long, that moving assets proved incredibly expensive. Omist had only two stations so building T1 ships with the handful of industry slots on offer was no option either. Those four pilots moved stuff for nearly a week through hostile territory with cyno Recons. Often they had to take a detour to avoid neutrals or wait a long time, while the OOG planning options for capital jumps were no match for today’s DOTLAN. Without these guys I would have not been able to participate in 0.0 at all. Moving ships and assets as part of a small corp with around 30 individuals 40 jumps through 0.0 as a nullsec newbie would have been impossible. At this point I decided that I need to train for a carrier; I have never enjoyed depending on others in my Eve career.
Fast forward to early 2009: after joining Ushra’Khan and a short time staging in Curse, we got standings with AAA and moved over to F4R2-Q, a station under heir control. We obtained ratting rights nearby and access to the AAA’s jump bridge network. PvP, ISK and supply was available in matter of minutes. I was also able to get one ship back from Omist in less than 15 minutes – a hull that I already written off my asset list.
On the other hand, I was on the end of all the negative effects of an hostile jump bridge network. Under the old mechanics, an alliance could anchor two jump bridges per system and CVA and their holders used it properly to defend their territory from roaming ganks. As soon as I entered the ‘road of death’ aka the upper Catch route, the gatecamp fleet was able to put up another gatecamp en-route even if I was able to run through their bubbles. If a medium-sized 20 man roam was able to fight off the hostiles, reinforcements were called from KBP7-G, D-GTMI or Y-MPWL (entry systems of Providence), that were able to bypass the ~20 systems within 5 minutes.
More recently, CCP changed the mechanics and now only one jump bridge can be onlined in a system so that one manual gate jump is required however it has no large influence on moving combat fleets quickly from one region to another. Small gatecamps between those systems however can stop movement of individuals via a large jump bridge network easily. You can only anchor jump bridge modules on a POS. Additionally you need sov and the correct IHUB upgrade installed which can only happen once the system sovereignty has been held for 35 days.
The same restriction applies to cyno beacons, although you only have to have held sov for 21 days. While they allow easy movement of jump drive capable ships, they are prone to being camped by hostile forces. Again, individuals can’t really benefit from this method unless they have eyes in the system. Combat capital fleets can move quickly and uncontested, while subcap combat fleets can be bridged to a cyno beacon system from a friendly titan. The titan can follow through and bridge the fleet again, allowing fast travel for subcaps fleets as well, while protecting their bridge titan. This tactic can be modified to move freighters through nullsecalso, be it for industrial purposes or to move IHUBs, large sov upgrades or station eggs, favouring long time sov ownership, organization and a large list of blue alliances.
Cloning, death cloning and offices
The cloning mechanic is often overlooked as part of power projection. I remember in early 2012 when OTEC was in full swing – Pandemic Legion was staging in Delve, removing some alliances and helping TEST to build the Honeybadger Coalition. During those heavy combat days somebody hit and replaced a PL Technetium POS in Venal. Like many older alliances, PL has plenty of offices and capital hangars with spares all over the universe. Elise Randolph started a fleet on a quiet Delve evening. I set my medical clone to a Venal station, got a dreadnought out of the corp hangar, made one jump next to the hostile POS and started to reinforce it. We had subcap support as well, even though that fleet had been forced to travel from another part of the universe. Death cloning turned a 61 gate move-op into a two minute timer wait. After docking up I set my medical clone back to Delve since the POS timer was set to late USTZ next day, undocked and got podded by an alliance member.
Organized groups with a good logistic backbone can set up multiples of those forward combat staging systems, either in friendly sov space, NPC null sec or lowsec. As long as there are enough offices and unlimited storage in stations this will remain a good and easy counter to any jump drive changes especially a long cool down period or decrease in jump range. Jump clones can be used as well when you don’t have to react immediately. With the newly introduced changes to skills and jump clone timers it makes this way of power projection even easier since you can do a combat ops in Delve one day, jump clone to Venal a mere 20 hours later and participate in yet another combat op. This time frame fits perfectly with most players individual gaming sessions during evenings – being able to jump clone before each game session.
Jump bridges and cyno beacons only work for already established alliances. Coalitions can share vital parts of their jump bridge network to be able to move assets and combat ships within borders of their nullsec empire in minimal time, especially vital for defending their territory. Roaming fleets can be systematically cut off from reinforcements, should an engagement escalate. A well organized coalition can project assets and manpower within it’s borders easily. Should a corp hangar run out of ships, logistic groups can restock assets without further protection of the coalition. Large coalitions and organized alliances can rely on large stockpiles of ships and assets in corp offices to be able to fight in any corner of the universe without manually jumping dozens of stargates.
In part 2 I will continue with other methods of power projection with a focus on jump drives, costs, diplomacy and space – pointing out some fixes as well their effects on the overall meta.