EVE Online has evolved quite a bit since its release in 2003. Since then we’ve seen all kinds of changes. Many of them eliminated legacy code and old game mechanics that don’t work with the newer systems. A recent nerf to death clone mechanics is one of those change. How the nerf happened is its own story. We had a chat with GSF’s Tuzy to get the scoop on this one!
Now we’re here, now we’re there
Corporation Headquarters were once a fairly important part of the EVE corporate mechanics. At one time, you could only join a corporation when you were in the same station as a corporate office. Due to office rental costs, for smaller corps this often meant the Corp HQ. As time went on it wound up having less importance, but was still a useful tool for moving corp members around. Once you’re in a corporation, you’re able to set your medical clone to the Corp HQ. If your pod explodes, you show up in that station from anywhere in New Eden. This makes it pretty handy to use when you join a nullsec group. You have your belongings shipped out, and deathclone. Otherwise, you need to run the gauntlet and hope your possessions survive. That said, our pals in Pandemic Legion found an even more clever (if OP) use for Corp HQs.
“Who will we drop in on today?”
Under the Corp HQ legacy code, you always had the option (while in a station) to choose whether your medical clone would wake up at the clone bay you set it at, or your Corp HQ. If someone revoked your medical clone contract, it reset to wake you up at your Corp HQ. There weren’t really any ways to efficiently exploit this mechanic, so it was generally left alone. Fast forward to the release of Citadels upon the starving masses, and PL had pretty quickly found a handy way to game the system.
The mechanic used a citadel with a cloning bay set up in the staging system. Pilots in the staging system would set their medical clones to the citadel, and wait for some good intel. Meanwhile, alts with the ability to move Corp HQ spread out around New Eden at various dreadnaught caches. Corporations can move their HQ every 60 minutes. The range covers all of New Eden, far outstripping any capital or jump bridge range. In effect, it kills two birds with one stone.
When a fight was going to happen, PL would simply shut off the citadel’s clone bay. Then the fleet undocked in pods, and promptly self-destructed. This sent them to their Corp HQ of the moment, and let them access their far-flung dread caches. It incurred no jump clone timer, and no expense. Best of all when the action was over, they could simply turn the cloning bay back on at the citadel. Then the fleet self-destructed their pods and bounced themselves right back home. An hour later, repeat the process with a new destination.
No big deal, right?
As soon as eagle-eyed members of the Imperium started to notice some interesting discrepancies on kill mails, the jig was up. GSF pilots approached CCP about the issue. The response indicated the mechanic worked as intended. Goons, however, are used to that kind of thing with CCP. As the old saying goes: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! As CCP did not object to the mechanic, the Imperium decided to use it themselves. The made no effort to keep their efforts low key or secret, though. Instead, they used it multiple times a day, for weeks on end.
According to reports, PL used this exploit for a year or more. The Imperium, however, needed only four weeks for CCP to remove it. Though handy, GSF considers its removal a much larger hit on PL’s gameplay than their own.
As of the most recent patch, medical clones default to the player’s home school station instead of Corp HQ. Many groups will watch how PL adapts to this nerf. They got somewhat comfortable with using the mechanic over recent months, and may go looking for an alternative. Still, there is no worse mechanic than an abused mechanic, and it needed to be nerfed. Thanks Goons!