Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Gentrification of the Western Hemisphere

As I write this, the other "writing on the wall" is the fall of Fortress Delve and the IT Alliance. Let me be clear on the first point: I am not a part of any of the alliances involved in this, the end of the "Forever War" in EVE. I have never been in IT. I have never been in an IT renter or pet, and I have never been a member of any of the alliances that make up the so-called "Northern Coalition." However, I have been aligned with forces against IT pets, when a resident of Syndicate and Outer Ring, and I have been aligned against the NC during "Max 2" - the northern invasion of Winter/Spring 2010.

The Verite Rendition map is a brilliant map of the various alliances holding sovereignty in EVE. Unfortunately, it does not have the ability to take into account the meta-blocs of the game, like the DRF, ASWagon or the Northern Coalition.

From Vale of the Silent in the Northeast,across the entire northern hemisphere to Cloud Ring, all of those alliances can be treated as one group. This is the current "Northern Coalition" founded to stand against the threat of the now two-years dead Band of Brothers (BOB), and any iteration of alliance formed from the corporations that comprised BOB, including the now-mortally wounded IT Alliance. If you assume that IT Alliance, and it's pet/renters Black Star Alliance, HUN Reloaded and BLADE are merely dead men walking in Fountain and Delve, you see that over half of Nullsec will soon be held by the (now perhaps incorrectly named) Northern Coalition. I will not make broad future assumptions about changes to the NC - instead I assume that inertia will hold the NC alliances together with blue status for the foreseeable future. Examining the map with that in mind, it becomes quite clear that the Northern Coalition of alliances (which contains upwards of 50 thousand pilots) has created a vast safe haven for the individual members to earn ISK. This, in my humble opinion, is the straw that may break the proverbial camel's back in EVE.

Nullsec has long been held up as "high-risk high-reward" and for some time, this was true in many places, but in this gentrified western hemisphere, that will no longer be true. As far as the Carrier can jump, vast ISK fields stretch before the average NC pilot, with little true threat within striking distance.

The western hemisphere of EVE has the potential to completely destroy any hope of balance in game, far beyond the damage already done by the T20, PI reprocessing, or the moon-goo fiascos of the past. Where Technetium lined the pockets of corporation and alliance leaders within the NC (and for some, trickled down to the average pilot), the vast resources of risk-free nullsec have the potential to change the wallet balance of the average NC pilot from the hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions in a short time. Safe from Black Ops hotdrops (4.5 LY max distance) and with the vast resources of the supercapital rich NC a deterrent to any smaller alliance with delusions of invasion, pilots will be free to farm Sanctums, Havens, and of course to chain multi-million ISK Battleship rats in the true nullsec systems far from any real threat. This means that rather than earning a few hundred million ISK in income per month, these pilots can make billions. By turning the entire western hemisphere of EVE into a giant ISK faucet, the average NC pilot will be able to shrug off losing carriers or faction battleships the way empire carebears shug off Drake losses in missions.

Add to that the lack of available sovereign space for a new entity to grow large enough or rich enough to even consider threatening the NC bloc, then the solidification of the NC as the sole superpower in EVE is practically a foregone conclusion. The "problem" if it is to be considered one, is that the risk-to-isk ratio in nullsec is negated in this brave new world. Even today, with the ISK or even the stockpiles of ships that the NC has at it's disposal, no entity could sustain an assault upon this group long enough to break it. The average NC alliance can replace supercapitals without hesitation, while other alliances hesitate to replace any ships that do not exactly match fitting standards.

Is there a solution? Maybe, but not one that would actually change the game for years. CCP would have to change the costs of sovereignty modules and upgrades, they would have to dynamically change the value/quality of rats in systems based on the sovereignty levels or upgrades, re-adjust the T2 moon mineral balance for ship construction (again), all of which are artificial ways of constricting this vast meta-alliance. Even with changes to those items, it would literally take years (if not longer) to cause any significant dent in the wallets of these alliances. In addition, it's likely that with CCP's track record, any changes to costs would be even more detrimental to small alliances hoping to get a start in nullsec, making that activity even more of a non-starter.

The reality is, it's time to get a character into an NC alliance, and start farming. Although it's unlikely that your wallet will reach the pinnacles of ISK that the existing farmers have (after all, they are farming ISK as you read this from your empire mission hub), the imbalance at least moves up on a sliding scale, enabling you to maintain your position in this new, vastly unbalanced world. Those who aren't able to keep their position on the sliding scale (I'm looking at you, L4 mission runners) won't be affected until they join an alliance with delusions of grandeur and nullsec sovereignty.


  1. Wow, quite the strawman you create out of the NC.

    Sole superpower, eh? Totally ignoring the just as large and numerous and powerful Drone Region Russions whose empire streches farther. :P

    By the way, your claims of richness and invincibility does not take into account the vast number of reds that roam NC space looking for mindless ratters / complexers. As for the ship replacement programs, they are comparable to any other major alliance in Eve. 'Replacing super caps at will' LOL I wish!

  2. A very one sided '2012 is coming' argument there. Remember that at any given moment half the alliances in NC are planning to back stab each other. A half of them don't quite like each other, and some leaders hate each other, and often vocally.

    Don't forget that this alliance is forged by PvP players, who will quickly get bored and turn on their neighbors for a challenge. Do you think these individuals will be 'reduced' to their most despised carebear status?

    Also, the mystical golden fields you describe already exist in many systems. I happen to be in one, and it has nothing to do with NC. Unfortunately ratting does not earn you that much money at all, doing sanctums makes money, yes. But you have stiff competition from just the blue population there. Do you think these 50,000+ individuals will have a sanctum/escalation each? every hour?

    There are no isk fields to reap.

    Don't look at the future that has only one possible outcome. As that would be the least plausible future. You could be right, if all the stars align at the right moment.

  3. Sole Superpower is a fair statement - with almost 4x the numbers of the DRF based on recent accounts. The DRF only stretches further until the campaign in Fountain and Delve is complete, then the entire western half of EVE is blue to the NC.

    Don't tell me that the NC alliances don't have the ISK to replace SCs at will, and the resources to build them. I know what it costs to build a Nyx, and if it mattered to leadership SC pilots who lost ships in battle would be sitting in new ships the next day or as quickly as one could be brewed.

    I don't know that it's fair to say that any alliance is "forged by PvP players" - except for the s0-called elite PvP alliances. Most alliances by nature have a variety of players in them, so claiming that they will quickly get bored and turn on their neighbors is a bit brash - especially since the last time they "got bored" they invaded the DRF - not each other.

    As for the "isk fields" iHub systems with the military upgrades and Sov 5 change the balance of rats as well as the 2x2 anomalies in a system. Sure that means a single system can only support maybe 10 pilots 23x7. Between Fountain/Delve/Querious there's an additional 300 systems to farm, added to the 600-odd systems in NC territory already.

    As for the future, this is one possible outcome. I'm sure it's just as likely that after years of fighting side by side the core alliances in the NC are going to reset each other for "good fights" (ok, maybe not).

    And the "swarms of reds" in NC space is a bit of an exaggeration. Most of those gangs (if they aren't PL) are less than 20 pilots each, and are going to be found on the fringes, not deep in sovereign space.

  4. Also Kirith, from Wikipedia: A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.

    Where is this informal fallacy? The NC/CF is for all intents and purposes one meta alliance that will stretch across half of nullsec after the fall of Fountain and Delve. Where am I misrepresenting anyone's position? The NC and CF have said that they are going to take Fountain and Delve. The map clearly shows the outcome of that campaign. I'm not upset, although I am on the outside.

  5. Thought-provoking post, to be sure. While I'm not sure that they'll be a power-bloc forever, I tend to agree with your arguments, especially about all the ISK they can make.

    What I find intriguing is that this closely relates to the discussion about how to fix low-sec. One issue brought to the table in those arguments is that fully upgraded null-sec is in fact less risky and more rewarding than low-sec. Null-sec inhabitants scoff at the notion that low-sec is more dangerous, because they never know when a roaming red fleet is bound to fly in. I have no personal experience, but I feel that the tales of red-threat are exaggerated. More likely, the 0.0 residents don't want any changes to the status quo.

    I don't think CCP will recognize this as a problem for a while, though. What could attract their attention, though, is lower PLEX sales or the further ease of capital construction due to fat-walleted NC'ers. Or, we could begin to see inflation, as the value of the PLEX skyrockets due to 0.0's pilots having easy money to pay for game time. It'll be interesting to see.

  6. Interesting perspective from what sounds like an evoke/tri/CH/whatever pilot.

    In terms of supercap replacement, it depends strongly on the alliance and the corporation. Razor gives 7.5 billion - half to one third the value of a fitted supercarrier - to the /corporation/ of a pilot that loses a supercarrier. On the other hand, at least one corporation in MM literally gives free titans to their directors. Not that it's a huge deal, as director types in core NC alliances can certainly afford personal supercaps -- I can, and I'm a late 2007 player while many of the leadership are from 2003-2005.

    FWIW I do coalition maps from time to time. The most recent is almost 2 months old though still semi-relevant. Planning to do an update as soon as borders stabilize a bit.