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.
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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.