The current stagnation in EVE Online is partially due to game design mishaps and mistakes. Current game mechanics show even more problems than ever before. But what makes these changes most noticeable is the huge difference in gaming opportunities when we compare small/medium sized corporation to big and bulky coalitions.
Currently, big alliances /coalitions can win any sov contest, simply by deploying the FAX, a type of Capital ship, which can withstand enormous amounts of damage, at the relatively low cost of 4 billion. Groups of these ships can be sent to capture a node. In order for the opposition to kill said FAXes, smaller entities need to deploy 3-4 T2-fitted Dreadnaughts, which cost around 7 billion IISK each, totalling 28 billion. During the siege cycle of 5 minutes, Dreadnaughts are sitting ducks. And there are multiple nodes spawning all around a constellation within few jumps from each other. Therefore, Fozzie sov, in its current state, totally favors the big alliances and coalitions that can more easily afford to take billions in losses to conquer sov.
Once, all POS were equal. Players were able to get any ship type inside the force field. Small, medium and large structures had differences in force field diameter and prices ranging from 200 to 600 million. With an anchoring/onlining time of 15-60 minutes, depending on size, these structures provided dynamic and involved gameplay.
There was no damage cap on a POS, so it was possible to kill it quickly.
Therefore, we didn’t see time zone tanking. ( Time zone tanking occurs when an alliance sets the reinforce timer so that opponents have to alarm clock in order to attack the asset for second time).
When first introduced, POS guns were deployed inside the force field, making them invulnerable to attack. But later, due to pressure from the EVE community, those guns were moved outside of the force field. But it is not the case with citadels.
Small corporations and alliances can only afford to place Astrahus citadels (1 Bil), which are only able to house subcaps and jump freighters. Caps and supercaps can only tether on them, but they can be bumped away from tether. Fortizars are relatively inexpensive and are priced with at 7-8 bil per hull and are able to house capital size ships, but the anchoring time of 24 hours in npc null space and seven days time in sov null gives bigger alliances plenty of time to gather all the forces needed to destroy this citadel type of structure.
Keepstars cost a whopping 200 billion and can dock any type of ships, including capitals and supercapitals. Such structures can only be placed by big alliances or coalitions. Why they still have a 24 hour anchoring time, just like the small Astrahus, is beyond me.
Even thinking of assaulting a Keepstar is not for everyone, since you need a really massive fleet in order to do it. And in order to kill it, you need to attack it 3 times.
Inequality or discrimination?
Keepstars also provide their users some less obvious advantages:
- The ability to travel EVE from North to South , without risking supercaps, jumping to cyno beacons and docking straight away, whilst players using Astrahus or Fortizar structures, need to wait on a 30 second timer before they can tether safely, and even then they can be bumped away from safety of tether.
- The ability to move vast distances through space using these Keepstars, with absolutely zero risk, while destroying the ability of smaller entities to grow and develop.
- Coalitions /alliance members with Keepstars can dock their supercaps and jump via clones to less expensive ships, increasing numbers in support fleet.
Let’s say corporation of 10 players, with two accounts each have 10 supercarriers. If they want to go roaming or do home defense, they can dock their supercarriers and switch to support ships, effectively boosting their numbers to 20 characters total.
On the other hand, a small corporation of 10 players with 2 accounts each and 10 supercarriers can only deploy 10 characters because they cannot afford a structure that allows them to dock those supers. They don’t have, then, the same advantage of the large bloc groups. What becomes of roaming or the home defense? No such luxury.
And for the everyday activities like mining, exploration, building, PvE, the ability to dock your supercap and switch to another ship provides a clear advantage over being in a small organization which can only afford to deploy an Astrahus or Fortizar. And yet CCP wants players to believe they value small and mid-size organizations. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the citadel mechanics and cost.
Another advantage of having a Keepstar is ability to project power in a distant NPC region, grabbing resources there, then leaving clones and cap/supercaps in it, providing the ability to quickly and safely deploy there in case those assets are at risk.
As we can see, Keepstars provide a clear and straight forward advantage to big entities in EVE, whilst other blocs, with limited resources, have to spend even more effort, which can be ruined any time.
Before implementation of citadels, a POS was used for moon mining. Since every POS had only one reinforce timer, and it could be reinforced very quickly without a DPS cap, smaller entities could wage guerilla war even against overwhelming forces. For example, when the alliance Out Of Sight, living in Venal, controlled more than 60% of all moongoo, whilst surrounded from all sides by Goonswarm and their allies. Now, such a scenario would be absolutely impossible. With three timers and Keepstars providing safe travel for fleets, it is possible for mega-coalitions to control moons even very far away from their home regions.
So the biggest question remains: Is CCP willingly or unwillingly creating inequality of gameplay and pushing players into forming mega coalitions in order to receive those advantages?