Monday, March 07, 2011

Large Coalitions Are Not Bad For Eve

A post at Eveoganda by Rixx Javix had me sighing again. Not the post itself, which was a good discussion about how changing how standings work could change the game. No, the thing that made me sigh was once again the concept of coalitions was under attack.

I talked about how the success of the Northern Coalition was not bad for Eve and how all grand alliances come to an end eventually,but today I want to address some common misconceptions that I feel underlie the concerted effort to destroy coalitions by changing game mechanics.

Misconception #1: Coalitions Stifle PvP

If anything, coalitions create environments that stimulate PvP! By creating areas where more people feel secure and move out into null sec, it creates more space in which hostile gangs can roam looking for kills and fights. Also, by having a coalition to work with, people are more likely to form into fleets and go fight the enemy rather than huddling alone and afraid in a station somewhere because most of their alliance is logged off in that time zone.

Also, there is a whole class of PvP that can only exist with coalitions and that is the Power Bloc Wars: MAX 2.0, NC versus DRF, Clusterfuck versus IT, StAAAinwagon versus The Initiative and Friends, etc. These wars span months and many regions, sometimes involving thousands of pilots and massive mercenary contracts. These are the wars that make the epic posts on forums and blogs, not the small brush wars in Syndicate or Curse.

As a counterpoint to the misconception, take Providence as an example: under the CVA and Holder coalition Providence thrived with large population and plenty of small hostile gangs running through at all times through the week. When our corp went back at the turn of the year we found most of Providence to be a wasteland.

Misconception #2: Coalitions lead to the Blob

First off, I mean the soul-crushing lag-inducing blob, not the "oh shit, they have more than we do" blob. Yes, coalitions make it easier for large fleets to strain the resources of the nodes but the reason blobs are necessary in sov warfare is more to do with the fact that Dominion puts all the pressure of taking systems on a low number of structure timers. Even without coalitions, sov warfare necessitates the most pilots each side can muster at one place at once.

Without serious Area of Effect weapons, there is no reason to not blob. Now I'm not advocating the return of the Titan Doomsday, but more weapons like the supercarrier Projected ECM burst and Void bombs would help out here.

Misconception #3: Life will be Swell in a post-Coaltion Null Sec

For a view of how like in a coalition-free null sec would be (assuming coalitions give up and break up once game mechanics turn against them, which I doubt since eve players tend to be very clever in adapting to changes), take a look at Syndicate and Curse regions. Due to the prevalence of non-conquerable NPC stations, we see many small corporations and alliances get their first taste of null sec life in these two regions. Its not an easy life, but a dedicated and talented group can carve a small kingdom in these regions without fear from coalition warfare pushing them aside.

I like these regions. I've lived in Syndicate and recognize the benefits. But I think an entire null sec like that would be boring, especially since without the prevalence of dockable stations that these two regions support you would quickly find much of null sec a wasteland in terms of pilots.

Misconception #4: Small Alliances have a Right to Space

Underlying all of this negative press for coalitions is that small alliances cannot grab space in null sec and exist without a bigger alliance or coalition pushing them out with ease. To which I say, so what? Eve is a social  and political game as much as an internet spaceship one and small alliances looking to grow and own space should have to go through hoops and diplomatic hurdles to get there, either by spending time in NPC null sec or renting space. Eve is hard mode bitches, nothing should be handed for free.

Misconception #5: Ending coalition will actually End Coalitions.

The alliance formerly known as IT was a coalition in everything except mechanics, hence why it fell apart so easily in the face of Goons and TEST. But the fact remains that if the current coalitions are broken, eve pilots would simply form bigger alliances in order to overcome that deficit. Instead of coalitions stretching across multiple regions, single alliances will.

And where will the little guys be then? Still screwed, yet even more so since they will need to give up their own alliance identity and be subsumed into the greater alliance in order to have the benefits of null sec.

* * * * *

In the end the answer is not to try to destroy coalitions but instead to increase the sandbox flexibility with different zones for different playstyles. Wormholes was a brilliant addition because it opened up a new style of null sec that many people love and swear by, coalition free. Why can't CCP add a couple more null sec regions like Syndicate and Curse, chock full with non-conquerable stations? Or even constellations like the Sisters of Eve in Pure Blind? Or a second phase of wormhole space where constellations have static permanent holes to each other allowing for a slightly large entity to move in yet still keep coalitions at bay?

Its time to add to the sandbox if its getting to full, not punish those who choose to build the biggest castles.


  1. Two points to offer, generally in support of the above. First off, Eve prides itself on fostering a close knit community. All that, and we're supposed to creep around in tiny little coteries (er, wrong CCP title. I mean corps)?

    Social groupings flow through cycles when you remove the confines of real world necessities a la "I hate my job, but damn I hate not eating." You can look at a position in an EVE chirp like a job (and some RP'rs or hard core groups like Noir probably do), but there is very little to keep one player from drifting away from anothe.

    In light of recent I

  2. Wow. Thanks Droid.

    In light of recent IT news, I'd say there is evidence to that effect. A venture starts off as buddies hanging out then grows to a point where egos lead to fracturing, or interests just become incompatible.

    Second point, in light of all the Canadian bashing I've been responsible for, I offer a pearl of wisdom from a prominent figure from my own region, rendered in the parlance of his day. Ahem. "Git thar fustest with the mostest."

    In all fairness, his side lost their war.

  3. Anonymous11:01 am

    Misconception #4: Small Alliances have a Right to Space

    Here Here!
    Smaller groups trying to gain space is all well and good. BUT it's just stupid to think that anything in a game that prides itself on being a sandbox cannot be taken away from you by a bigger/badder entity. That just isn't how things work, or how they should

  4. "Why can't CCP add a couple more null sec regions like Syndicate and Curse"

    Pretty much what I said a few weeks ago on my blog as well.

    I disagree with some of the first thing you posted as a misconception. In NC space it's extremely difficult for "small gangs" to survive in that environment. Sure you might get 1-2 kills of the unwary on your way, but the soul-crushing response fleet titan bridging around you, being both behind and in front of you at the same time, and well that's not exactly conducive to PvP, or at least to a return trip.

    The problem that I see with Coalition PvP vs Alliance PvP is that there is no longer really the fight of an alliance vs another alliance, instead you have powerblock 1 vs powerblock 2. The only way to really solve this, well at least that I have been able to figure out, is to increase the space available in Eve.

    Further I think you over-simplify when you say that provi during CVA tenure was a bustling place of happiness. RPing aside, that place was a rat-hole of piss-poor fits and poor to worse response times. It supported such a large mess of fail that it was fun to go PvP/Roam there because of the silly fights you would get into against the locals. Not because there was any level of competence. Sure you can still find fights like this in current powerbloc space, it is just much more rare, and the pilots are better trained and much more competent. CVA led provi was a fluke, in that it could support a weak PvP arm in comparison to other Alliances of the time because it had friends and no territorial ambitions beyond what it already had. This was exposed when it tried to get a little more territorial.

    This topic always makes me want to write a giant post about it :)

  5. I'm glad my post got you all up in arms about Coalitions Kirith :)

    I came over to hear a good solid argument about why coalitions are good for Eve and I'm saddened that I didn't hear one. The best you managed was we need 'em so we can have Power Bloc Wars? And that would be different than 5,000 man Alliance Wars how exactly? It would be hard for alliances to take over an entire region when they are limited to 5,000 members. Or when unused sov space actually costs more to own.

    I'm not trying to be difficult and I respect your viewpoint, and you certainly have a right to like Coalitions... just because. In my universe the Alliance would be king, Sov would be a much more active game mechanic, the individual pilot would hold some power, SuperCaps would be more properly balanced, battleship fleets would be more common and we'd have more clearly defined friends and enemies. Sounds like a pretty good sandbox to me.

    And I'm all for bigger space and more stuff in it.

    I'd like to play there.

  6. Rixx:
    I said large coalitions stimulate PvP.
    I said coalition wars make for epic stories that people even outside Eve like to read about.

    There are two reasons. To flip the coin, I have yet to hear compelling (and accurate) reasons why coalitions are bad for eve.

  7. You are right and this argument is going nowhere, so I just went and made fun of it instead.


  8. Once I finish the battlereport post from the battle this afternoon, Im gonna post a response to this. :)


  9. @Rixx: *incoherent sputtering* How dare you! Get back here and fight!

    *shakes fist*

  10. LOL. Hey Kirith, I'm coming back m8. Jumping my Carrier in a day or so.

  11. Anonymous8:46 am

    I am in one of these small alliances, and as an alliance I am positive that we could take space from Gypsy Band, Mostly Harmless, Fidelas Constans, United Front Alliance or countless other NC pets. However, the NC props up these miserable failures through sheer force of numbers, which enrages me purely on a Darwinian level. EVE is supposed to be hard mode, yet being the NC is playing the game on Casual.

    Misconception #1: Coalitions Stifle PvP

    Yes, they do. Now, I know this is difficult for you to do, but you should really try roaming through NC space sometime. One of three things happen: you get a good fight with someone else who is roaming through NC space; you kill a few ratting Tengus who aren't using macros (yet); or you get chased off by the 100-man defense gang. Morsus Mihi used to roam to our home system, but after losing a couple of times stopped coming over. The conclusion, then, is that the NC doesn't want PvP.

    I at no point intend to limit alliance or blue list sizes - it's an awful fix to a complicated problem. What can be done, however, is to nerf mobility into the ground. Space that you want to keep has to be occupied and actively defended. Jump bridges (and titan bridges) are the lynchpin in coalition-level tactics - they allow for both the formation of ridiculously-sized roaming defense/gank gangs and sov defense.

    If getting from Pure Blind to Geminate involved 38 gate jumps, I think a fair few systems would have fallen to the DRF before everyone had properly redeployed.