Author’s Note: This article is, like other OA columns, quite lengthy. Key suggestions about a possible future for Sov warfare can be found on page 2.
As keen-eyed capsuleers will be aware, CCP’s latest devblog on structures (and capitals!) has gone live. It contains some much-anticipated discussion on the mechanics of the upcoming Citadels, and the role of capital ships in their destruction. This column will be a little different from previous Opinionated Analysis articles; it will not summarize the changes line-by-line. I recommend taking five to read the relevant dev blog and ensure the material is fresh in your mind.
Good. Let’s begin discussing what this means for both us as players, and for CCP.
CCP IS DISSATISFIED WITH ENTOSIS LINKS
This point deserves special mention. Practically the first line of any importance in the blog is the following:
“Long story short, we have had long meetings about the structure attack system, and came to the conclusion that, while Entosis Links do indeed achieve our design goals for the Citadels, they are not actually delivering an experience we are satisfied to provide.“
In other words, CCP is not satisfied with the Entosis Link as a complete mechanical solution for the problems that arose during the latter years of Dominion Sov. More to the point, they have acknowledged that it does not make logical sense for large and destructible structures such as Citadels to be destroyable via nothing but “Sov Lazers,” without firing a single actual bullet at the damned things. It would appear as if CCP has finally taken note of what quite a few loud voices have been proclaiming for some time now — emphasis on grid control and mobility are all well and good, but in its current form, Fozziesov provides just about no reason to commit real force when contesting a Sov structure.
To counteract this, we are receiving structures with EHP. Not just EHP, but a fairly large amount of EHP, requiring sieged dreads to destroy them in any reasonable length of time. The XL Citadels will demand a moderate capital force in order to destroy in any reasonable length of time. CCP also understand that the number of committed capitals requires a certain degree of balance, which leads us to:
CCP DOES IN FACT UNDERSTAND THE MERITS OF FOZZIESOV AND THE FLAWS OF DOMINION
This is, in my opinion, the real meat of the system. CCP, while dissatisfied with the experience that the Entosis Link is providing, comprehends that there are in fact ways that Fozziesov has corrected the failings of Dominion Sov. To begin, let us address the lack of ability to land reps on the Citadel.
While players have fiercely debated whether fleet-level logistics are broken or not, there is no arguing that capital-level logistics in their purest form (or to put it another way, the combined power of 45 triaged Archons spamming a single structure with reps) are incredibly overpowered. The inability of logistics ships to actually put reps onto the Citadel highlights a very important point – while CCP has expressed dissatisfaction with the Entosis Link, they are moving in the direction of eliminating the “Supercapital Blob” as the primary means of Sov Warfare.
Furthermore, the lack of ability to place reps on the Citadel, and more importantly, its replacement with the Repair Timer, puts further emphasis on another major theme of Fozziesov — grid control. If even an absolutely miniscule amount of DPS is being applied to the Citadel, there is simply no way for it to regenerate HP. While the EHP on even a Medium Citadel prevents quick destruction with anything short of battleship or capital-grade force committment, this force committment must be balanced with force multipliers or other forms of grid control. In other words, rather than absolute firepower like under Dominion Sov, or absolute control over engagement range, etc. like in Fozziesov, Citadels appear to be aimed to balance the two systems without pushing to either extreme, especially taking pains to avoid extreme blobs as a mainstay of Sov warfare as they were under Dominion. I will never forget watching a fleet of 75 Aeons used to smartbomb a BL SBU into submission prior to Phoebe last year. This leads us to our third point:
CCP DOES NOT WISH TO PROVIDE A “PRESS X TO WIN THIS FIGHT” BUTTON
This point should be fairly obvious, but I feel it deserves mention anyway. By itself, the above mechanic of disallowing logistics-based reps on a Citadel, and only permitting it to repair while it is not under fire to ensure the validity of grid control, would permit a large fleet of, say, 200 dreads to vaporize a Citadel in a few minutes flat. This is obviously not an attractive solution, and an increase in EHP alone would merely add to the “N+1” mechanic that plagued Dominion Sov. To deal with this issue, there is a cap on the amount of DPS that a structure can take, ensuring that the absolute shortest amount of time that a Citadel can take to be destroyed is 30 minutes. There are several important points worth nothing that go along with this.
Notably, the time to destroy a structure is not affected by the ADM of the system. The repair timer is. This, coupled with the fact that each structure has a fixed quantity of vulnerability which it must go through per week, emphasizes a balance between the defenders and attackers. On one hand, the defenders are not entirely able to dictate their response timeframe, nor actively reduce the amount of time that they are vulnerable for per week. However, the defenders gain the a degree of agency by permitting a flexible calendar of vulnerability windows and the promise that no matter how large the cap fleet the enemy brings to your doorstep, your structure will take at least thirty minutes to be destroyed, allowing for reasonable formup times and thus a better chance of a proper fight.
The other point worth mentioning is the fixed DPS means that the thirty minute timer is a hard cap based purely on server time, rather than having any actual real-world connotation. While this does not have any effect during normal gameplay, it could play a huge role during fights where TiDi becomes a factor. Since TiDi increases the length of a second of in-game time, if you were fighting at 50% TiDi, each second would become two seconds of real-world time, and thus the thirty minutes it takes to destroy a Citadel becomes one hour.
As a result, aggressors in particular must consider the degree of force which they are bringing and avoid bringing overwhelming force unless it is a) absolutely necessary or b) the prospect of resistance is dismal enough that it really doesn’t even matter. Through this cap, force escalations become a matter of necessity, rather than pure dick-waving. Thankfully, the damage requirements to actually destroy a Citadel in the first place incentivize the commitment of real force, creating a fundamental theme of balance between force, mobility, and grid control.
At this point, there are quite a few small-scale tweaks that we could suggest. Seeing as CCP has stated that quite a few of the metrics are still up for debate, I will withhold most of my commentary. However, it seems highly illogical to have one repair timer repair the entirety of the structure in one fell swoop, rather than each timer repair a single HP bar. For instance, a structure with zero percent armor would take a single repair timer to repair to full armor, and a single additional timer to repair to full shield. That said, these mechanics allow for some very interesting avenues to take the concept of Sov, and player choice as a whole, leading us to…
GIVE PLAYERS MULTIPLE AVENUES TO TAKE SOV
While I do not wish to get into too much detail in this column on the subject of linearity versus asymmetry in game mechanics, and in particular in Sov, I will start by making a basic claim:
In last week’s column, we discussed the concept of player agency. I made the not-very-controversial claim that increased player agency and multiple options to carry out the same task was a good idea. This time around, I’m going to go one step further and say that players should have multiple different manners in which they can claim Sov, each with their own appeals and drawbacks.
CCP has proven to us that they can take a pretty solid stab at making structure bashes work under the new Fozziesov paradigm. This further proves that the Entosis Link is not the fundamental theme of Fozziesov, but rather a means to an end. That end, the true theme of Fozziesov, is emphasizing the balance between grid control, mobility, and force, rather than simply calling down a finger of God. That is why it was okay to scale back some of the power projection nerfs brought about in Phoebe, and bring them into line with this theme. In keeping with this theme, I propose the following suggestion:
Give all Sov-related structures EHP and make them destructible through the mechanics outlined in this Citadel devblog (with some tweaks naturally — there remain twinges of the finger of God in this method and I will forego total judgment until I see how precisely the structures themselves can act as force multipliers for the defenders). Furthermore, make those same structures captureable via Entosis Link, rather than destructible by them. Rather than the TCU blowing up once you successfully contest the node warfare, make the TCU flip control to the aggressor who just won the contest. Make Entosis Warfare measurably more time-consuming and with a greater advantage to the defenders, and you have just created a two-tier system with two levels of reward:
- Destroy the structures outright via DPS in a fight based on the thematic elements of the Citadel devblog: grid control versus time management versus pure DPS versus mobility, with the Sov structure itself having options to act as a force multiplier for the defenders. This is the “quicker path,” with fewer gains for the attackers, balanced by a necessity for greater military force and shorter response times for the defenders.
- Capture the structures via Entosis Link, with greater gains for the attackers balanced by a much longer time required to contest high-ADM space and a greater advantage to the defenders overall. This has the bonus option of allowing an “aggressor” to quickly roll barren space, long abandoned by its former defenders, essentially moving in and occupying their old houses rather than burning down the empty homes and starting over.
While this system requires some tweaking, and I firmly believe that a defending alliance should have some agency over which option is more viable (for instance, perhaps allowing an alliance executor to state that “in exchange for a slightly shorter base node capture time in this system, the Citadel in said system will have a quicker repair timer), the overall function of this “Hybrid Sov Structure” system would allow for greater agency on the part of attackers and defenders, and just sounds all around more fun to me.
Of course, I could be completely off my rocker on this one. Let’s find out.
Stay tuned for next Sunday’s OA column, which will cover the Mobility in EVE promised by last week’s and delayed by this devblog!
Questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact Kyle Aparthos in-game or email [email protected]
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Kyle Aparthos, and originally appeared on TheMittani.com under his byline.)