EVE has entered phase three of the sov revamp. The largest citadels, the Keepstars, have begun making appearances in the newly conquered regions of the the north: Deklein (2O9G-D), Pure Blind (7RM-N0), and now Tribute (M-OEE8). More will follow to fortify the holdings Money Badger Coalition (MBC) made when they forced out The Imperium. These citadels are the third phase of sov changed designed by CCP in 2014.
EVE saw its last population spike in February 2014. Ghost sites had just been introduced and were getting balanced when the mostly quiet Halloween war exploded with two major battles: HED-GP, and days later, the mother of all battles, B-R5RB, which was featured in dramatic live reporting. News of B-R spread through gaming media and spilled over into traditional news outlets worldwide. New subscriptions spiked, but the molten-hot interest didn’t last long, and soon the null sec map was cold and still. PVE-focused players continued to explore for ghost sites, but the PVP veterans finished up the war, refortified their supercapital fleets, and collected rent from their subjects to refill their war chests. The rank and file PVPers grew bored, as null sec leaders had no appetite for another cataclysmic fight.
The summer stagnation turned into a fall stagnation. Null leaders, eager to show initiative, drew up their “A Null Deal.” The deal was a statement from null sec leaders on what changes they wanted to see and basically had three points:
- Occupancy-based sovereignty
- Increased worth of null systems
- NPC section in every sov region
Ignoring the null deal from players, CCP announced their plan:
The first phase of sov reform was to restrict projection of power. Pilots were given cooldown timers if they made strategic hops using jump drives and cynosural beacons. Travel through gates was left untouched, and freighters were largely left untouched by these changes too. The idea was to reduce military power to regional theaters of influence, while allowing supply lines to remain as umbilical cords to the commerce hubs in Jita and Amarr. Conventional travel, through gates, was opened to all ships, including massive industrial command ships and supercapitals – many times the size of gates themselves.
The second phase were the actual changes to how territory is conquered and introduced the concept of entosis. The Amarr versus Drifters conflict shrouded the introduction of the entosis in lore and lead to the death of the iconic Empress Jamyl. Despite grumblings from players, CCP made only a few alterations to the mechanic, which to this day is largely unchanged from its original introduction back in 2015.
Occupancy-based sov was here in the form of defensive indices, and later the value of null has been increased. The first two components of the Null Deal were met, by design or coincidence. In addition to this, the system was made to lower the barrier of entry to new groups. Participation in sov politics would open to independent alliances.
The last phase of sov has been ambiguously described as everything after phase two, but the structure revamp has constantly been mentioned.
Phase Three is the stage that CCP Seagull discussed in the EVE Keynote at Fanfest this year. This stage is intended to build upon the changes that we are planning for starbases/structures and corps/alliances in 2015, changes that will open up new possibilities for more dynamic warfare and more granular control of territory. This phase is also intended to lead quite deliberately into the future through our vision for player-built stargates. – dev blog
Citadels are now being used as forward operating bases, to secure the movement of navies, and as fortresses. MBC forces in the north littered Saranen, the rendezvous point for the Imperium, with citadels from which to stage from. Pandemic Legion then used astrahus to create a chain of safe jump points to their new home in Lonetrek (Hakonen), a tactic the Imperium used to safely move to Delve.
Keepstars are the ultimate flag planting for any alliance that can afford the 700 billion BPO and the 300 Billion build cost. This prompted former ProviBloc FC and CSM member corebloodbrothers to ask “[are] Keepstars for the rich or the powerfull?” So far, with the exception of a rumored Keepstar in the south, three have been built in the north, all belonging to members of MBC. A fourth one will be built by NC. soon.
At this time, stopping a Keepstar from being anchored is nearly impossible without winning the field. Once up, they are also nearly impossible to bring down. A Keepstar’s defensive weapons are highly effective against capital ships. By docking a capital fleet within, the defending alliance can ward off both capital and subcapital attackers with relative ease.
In some ways this is the real sov system. Citadels have become the seats of power that secure assets, allow safe travel, and the largest ones are unstoppable if anchored with sufficient numbers of pilots around. Unlike phases two, citadels are not something that will be nipped at by small entities entering the sov game.
As forward operating bases, Foritzars and Keepstars are essentially NPC space anywhere you want it. A determined foe, with enough pilots to create TIDI, will be able to plant their flag in your territory, unless they are met with overwhelming force. An enemy staging point that can be supplied by safely jumping freighters into tethering range is a worrisome prospect for some alliances.
The phases of the proposed sov shakeup have finally fallen into place. Phase one restricted force projection. Phase two made sov occupancy-based, made null richer, and allowed smaller groups to enter sov. Phase three introduced citadels, essentially the last piece of the Null deal: An NPC zone in every region. Unfortunately, this puts a new emphasis on building allies that come to your aid. If CCP wanted to get away from large TIDI fights and coalitions, the players may be too resistant to change for gameplay to open up to smaller groups.