Thursday, September 13, 2012

Off Grid Boosting - Rebuttal

When discussing the mechanics of warfare link boosting vis a vis off-grid as it is now versus on-grid as myself and some others are pushing for, two of the most compelling points in my opinion for the status quo are the "It Favours The Prepared" and "Better Than Another Fighting Pilot" arguments.

I've done some thinking and pondering and I've come up with my reasons why I think both of these reasons are not adequate to prevent boosting from only working for ships on grid with the booster.

"Favours the Prepared"

This is the more compelling of the two arguments and and can be basically can be summed up as this: if a pilot or group of pilots have the foresight to prepare an off grid booster character in a safe spot like a POS or deep space with the correctly trained skills and in the properly fitted ship, then they deserve the bonus that  boosting character gives their fleet over the enemy.

It holds weight because in a competitive game like Eve we want to reward those that plan ahead and make preparations over the pilots that simply fly by the seat of their pants. HOWEVER... upon closer examination it falls down.

If we are calling it "skill" and "effort" to train some skills on an alt and to buy and fit the right ship setup to do gang link bonuses, then I think we are greatly devaluing things that do take skill and effort, such as learning to  fit and flying a ship in combat. Let's be clear: there is no secret half known formula for creating a boosting alt, or the Loki that he has to sit in.

As for rewarding preparation, that would imply that if two sides were to meet that were both equally prepared the both sides would have the same advantage. Right? However, off grid boosting does not reward the prepared in so much as it rewards a static defender over a roaming attacker. The roaming fleet has to risk their alt in the Loki to get it into a system where a fight might occur and get it to a safe spot (unlikely a friendly POS available) whereas a defending fleet camping a gate has their boosting ship already in place (probably in a friendly POS in many cases). In other words, off grid boosting actually rewards gate campers (which I'm hoping doesn't need explanations as to why that is undesirable).

"Better Than Another Fighting Pilot"

This argument can also be labeled the "Better than a Falcon" point as that is its most common version I have heard. Essentially it goes like this: the advantages afforded by the off grid boosting alt are not so bad, and are far less annoying than if that pilot were to show up in a Falcon (or other combat ship).

Any pilot that has been burned by a decloaking Recon ship or a sudden local spike in the middle of a close fight understands the emotion behind this argument. The advantages afforded by off grid boosting can be overcome, and especially the Skirmish Warfare links that boost speed, signature radius, and tackle modules instead of boosting the enemy's tanking abilities.

But this point only really applies in a very slim set of scenarios, such as in 1-or-2 versus 1-or-2 fights where one side has an alt that is the boosting pilot. The advantages afforded by the fleet-wide boosts are small in small fights compared to the advantages that another combat ship provides, but in larger fights the cumulative affects of every member being boosted quickly outpaces the advantage of one more pilot in the direct fight. Furthermore, an alt acting as a second combat pilot is at a lot more risk since they have to be on grid to fight (i.e. target, activate modules, maneuver, etc), whereas an alt providing off grid boosting simply does nothing but sit there in virtually complete safety.

* * * * *

Anecdotal Story:

I logged in and looked to see if there were any fleets up. There was one advertising free Loki boosting in Heydieles, the system I was in. I joined and watched the range of my faction warp scrambler and webber jump on my plex-hunting Dramiel. For me the effort and preparation was zero yet while in Heydieles I had a significant advantage over any enemy This fleet had about 8-10 pilots in it, all of them gaining an advantage from one afk Loki alt, at no cost to themselves. Had I engaged anyone they would have not known I was boosted out the gills for my tackle gear until I scrammed them at ludicrous range. If the situation was reversed, I would definitely rather know what I'm up against by seeing another pilot on the grid (cloaked Falcons notwithstanding).

Off-grid boosting has got to change.


  1. Sure you can tell all kinds of stories and anecdotes about offgrid boosting and its evils, but here's the way I see it.

    There's really nothing that broken about off-grid boosting; ON-grid boosting has the potential to be even more messed up, due to the way grids are allocated. What people are REALLY complaining about is people boosting from inside POS shields. There's an easy solution here:

    1. Make all forms of gang link impossible to activate from inside a force field, and

    2. Make gang links somewhat decrease your sensor strength or otherwise make you easier to probe.

    You may at first complain that this forces Orcas and Rorquals to boost their lowsec/nullsec gangs from outside the shields, but I don't see what's wrong with that. It's quite doable and it makes the mechanic much more interesting. It also prevents people from just leaving links up all day.

    I have personally done a lot of fighting in highsec and I am extremely familiar with what it's like to have enemies with links you cannot possibly kill. In my opinion it is simply not as bad as most people make it out, and I think that a solution along these lines is very reasonable and easy to implement.

  2. I think the true problem here is the boosting tech 3 ships themselves. A ship that's basically a grown up covert ops with interdiction nullification is almost impossible to stop or destroy if the pilot doesn't wish to engage. Scanning it down while it is boosting is possible but a nontrivial task, and assuming the pilot is awake and paying attention (i.e. full speed aligned)tackling him even after you find him is near impossible as well, especially if the fit includes a warp stab or two for just that purpose. Add to that tech 3 boosts are better, and the ships are quicker to train for, than the tech 2 battlecruiser hulls that are supposed to be specialists in this role, and it's not hard to make a strong argument that tech 3 cruisers are outdoing two specialist niche classes of ships simultaneously, which says to me, "OP".

    Until other mechanics in the game change, removing the ability to boost from offgrid is an unfair and unwarranted nerf to ships other than the ones creating the problem. You may not realize that a Rorqual only applies its ship bonuses when it's deployed, otherwise you may as well put those links on a battlecruiser. Are you going to deploy (siege) a 3 billion isk capital ship, with a years-skilled pilot that has a 1 billion isk implant in his head, outside of POS shields? I didn't think so.

    Instead, why don't we make the command processor module a specialist item for command ships, along with reducing the boosting bonus of tech 3's to be more in line with command ships? What this does is force a decision between cloaky, near-unstoppable, with a single link, or a dedicated command ship for multiple links which is more vulnerable.

    And people should also keep in mind, when you go to beard lions in their den you should expect that defenders might be prepared. If you want to level your playing field with defending forces, then set up your own POS in the system you intend to attack and park your boosting command ship there. If you are just there roaming in a nanofag gang looking to farm kills from inexperienced pilots, then pick the single link you want most and run your cloaky Loki through the gate first as scout.

    Honestly, the way it's set up now things are in relative balance, other than the OP tech 3 boosting. Attackers can bring their links in on covert nullified tech 3's, defenders can park their booster in a POS. Putting the ships themselves on grid just assures their immediate destruction, leaving fleets without boosts and some of the interesting tactical options that they provide.... which would probably suit the BLOB just fine. I think this recent whining over offgrid boosting is a big smokescreen without a fire under it anywhere.

  3. The only people that moan about Off grid boosters are people that don't have them, and the bollocks about it favouring the defender is stupid, what is wrong with a defender having a edge?? After all he has gone to the trouble of setting up a pos, training a alt to boost, the problem lies (as has already been stated) that t3's are better then command ships, which is bollocks, all that's needed is to swap bonuses 3-5 for command ships and 5-3 for t3's

    To make all boosting have to be on grid, major work needs to be done to grids throughout the game, and I don't know about you but I'd prefer more iteration's on ships to be done over fixing this.