Monday, January 14, 2013

Gallente FW Victory Tainted?

In my post on Sunday congratulating the Gallente Militia for winning all systems in the Caldari/Gallente warzone I got this comment:
tMmM!9:24 AM
Well well. So it's finally happened. Congratulations at evening the score.
Although ... when we did it those years ago, we didn't have the help of scores of Amarr plex farmers and fleets, or a very friendly recent game mechanic change to let us easily hold our takings. So it begs the question ... if not for those things, would it _really_ have happened? Hm.
I guess we'll always wonder.
Last night when I was in game I asked in militia chat and various channels what exactly he was talking about. I don't remember seeing a lot of Minmatar fleets helping the Gallente but I was not around much, and as far as I know there was no obvious broken mechanic. No one had anything for me until my poking finally got one Caldari FW player to communicate with me on condition of anonymity.

Here's the bulk of what he had to say:

But a lot of times, I guess what it comes down to is the "ninja patch" in October - the one that hit on less than one day's notice, intended to end the seesaw nature of FW and cut off the LP faucet. I've read what people have said on the forums, (filtering out insane conspiracy theories, propaganda, and blatant violations of Wheaton's Law), but the ninja patch - and its second part, which reduced the levels of vulnerability of every vulnerable system - led to the following scenario:

The side holding many vulnerable systems (in this case, the Gallente) had to decontest every system they held in order to take them out of vulnerable. This required a large number of small ships set up for defensive plexing, which could all operate independently, and evade at will (in effect, the gunless frigates of the farming days, except that they didn't even need to worry about speed-tanking the rats).

The other side (the Caldari) had to bust as many bunkers as possible before they could be deplexed. This required a large number of high-DPS ships to bunch up and concentrate on one I-hub after another - something which can't be hidden, especially given the map system, and which presented an attractive target, to pirates as well as Gallente. This large, vulnerable fleet had to be formed up on zero notice, basically in a full-blown call to arms, which lasted until its FC burned himself out after a couple of days.

And one other factor: CalMil didn't have capitals to call on for any of this. The Gallente had been seen using dreadnoughts for I-hub bashing, and they've probably still got their Titans parked in Black Rise; also, the major Black Rise pirate groups have capitals, shiny subcaps, and Titan support. CalMil didn't have a dedicated capital fleet, and to the best of my knowledge, its total Titan count was: zero.

My guess is that if the ninja patch had hit while the Caldari had heavy warzone control, the Gallente would have dropped dreadnoughts on many I-hubs in succession, in addition to using high-DPS subcaps. CalMil didn't have that option.
He then added:
It also didn't help that the Gallente militia groups were apparently much more monolithic, while the CalMil groups all too often ended up at one another's throats (too many blue-on-blue kills leading to intra-faction war-decs, nominal friendlies picking off members of I-hub bashing fleets, et cetera), and couldn't seem to get all their guns pointed in the same direction at times. When the biggest alliances left, one or two of the smaller groups found themselves responsible for trying to hold the entire warzone, and by mid-December, we just flat-out didn't have the men or the metal to pull it off in the face of a resurgent Gallente assault. Several corps in my old alliance were basically on constant CTA, operating with minimal support to try to hold off the advance and failing.
So according to the one source I could find in short notice, the issue was a matter of timing, militia memberships, and organization. While one could fault CCP for implementing the patch without resetting the warzone, previous radical changes to FW mechanics were also not accompanied by a reset warzone.

Still, that's not a "broken mechanic" so much as an "unfortunate timing" issue.

When I asked on twitter I got the following response:

What @eeski says is that its the fault of the Dust514 guys. What I think he means is that since Dust was not off the ground yet on Tranquility until recently, Caldari Dusties could not contests systems (using mechanics in place already but not used) when Gallente were attacking, thus making the takeover easy. This ignores the fact that Gallente militia had the same lack of Dust mercs although I grant it may have been a contributing factor to the perfect storm.

Interesting, but I was hoping for something more broken I could hang around CCP's neck. If anyone has any more information, please forward to me. I'd love to hear more.

P.S. I heard a rumour CCP will not be granting a medal for this achievement. If true, poor form, CCP, poor form. Way to not reward your players for generating content for your game.


  1. The problem seems to be that there's no incentive to join the losing side (other than a target rich environment for the very hardcore).

    Also titans seem out of place, FW should not depend on who has the bigger titan blob.

    1. Exactly why I joined Caldari, mind you ;-)

      Problem is people like me who join for targets have no interest in advancing zone control really. The more space the Caldari control the further I have to fly for targets and as more people flock to the Caldari banner the fewer my targets become, so to me a victorious Gallente militia isn't an issue (I'm not an idiot so my ships are in 'neutral lowsec' not the warzone).

      Anyways it's debatable if pilots that join the loosing side because of a greater number of targets are much of an asset, because as I just outlined to us 'turning the tide' isn't necessarily a good thing. And since we're not there for the rewards either they're not an incentive for us to push zone control at all.

  2. Hey, Kirith. Salutes on the blog, and kudos for taking up the discussion, as I think it's worthwhile (and not just for reason of its stemming from my previous response).

    One thing we should be clear on - by saying a "very friendly mechanic," I'm not implying it was broken. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't; I don't know. It was CCP's intention, and I won't read anything further into whether this is the sort of result they wanted or not; again, I simply don't know. I don't think so, tho, because as it turned out the mechanic would've been friendly to whoever was in control of systems at the time ... and since the majority were in Gallente hands, that's who it was friendly to. I remember finding this a bit surprising, when I heard about it, because I thought what CCP had been aiming at was a mechanic that meant systems would militate toward the power they were nominally a part of - i.e. systems in Black Rise would tend to favor Caldari faction and be harder to hold by Gallente. Because it's apparently not the case, this militated heavily against the Caldari in any attempt to reverse the trend and regain lost systems. Add to that the attitude that Kaeda speaks of and is - again - a marked change from the old days we plexed not for isk (because there was none) but for Caldari patriotism and to get fights (and one may well debate which came first - but we were a spirited and loyal group back then).

    The DUST interfacing point is interesting to me, because it wasn't a factor when I was still playing (unsubbed in October before everything came apart for the Caldari). Of course, the ninja patch that was mentioned also hadn't gone into effect as yet (or had only just, but I never saw its effect if so), so I was used to the status quo - which was a seesaw of the factions taking tier from each other. As you pointed out, the patch had its affect just after a swing to the Gallente side ... and I'm pretty certainly that was right when or just after I'd dropped. I remember it being said that DUST would have its effect, but I don't recall any details of that. But another Caldari vet I know personally also mentioned something about it being a factor on the Gallente being better able to hold onto the planets it had in Caldari space, so I have to wonder. But I don't know. Like you, I think I tend to believe that's more felicity than anything else.

    But what it all boils down to is kinda what I was getting at when I replied somewhat snarkily to your original post noting the Gallente take. The conditions under which it happened are tremendously different from that original conquest to this one. The mentality and ambitions and so forth of the respective players was different. The playing field was, I believe, much more level back then as there was no reward mechanic to bring allied pilots in from elsewhere in FW space to work a secondary opponent's space (and believe me - there were plenty; I saw multiples every single day ... and often enough, there were more duct-tape fliers than frogs), and there certainly was no mechanic affecting the ability to either hold or take systems the way there is now, today. In addition, capitals didn't play anything like the role they do today, with iHub bashing; so their presence was really limited ... save for some POS bashing, and a few times when the call went out "Caps Tackled!" and we would dash tons of jumps each way to get 'em (*cough*MitchTaylorDark-RisingNidhoggur*cough*). So many changes.

    And given that, can you really say this was much of an accomplishment as it was way back in the day it originally happened? I'm undoubtedly a bit biased ... but looking at it as logically as I can, I don't think it is. YMMV.

    What do you think?

    Shootin' Star - Director (Rtd.), Fancy Hats Corporation
    (formerly a pilot with ZiTek Deepspace and later Overview Glitch, at the time Caldari Militia first conquered FW space)

    1. I think that taking and holding 104 systems in the warzone is an accomplishment any way you cut it. Whether it was easier then or now is for the gods to say.

    2. No, it's actually a worthwhile discussion for a lesser beings; and you had continued it quite admirably, until this moment. Ah, well.

      However ... yes, in the end, it's true enough. Although I continue not to believe it's on quite the same par with what we did in '09, it's nevertheless a high accomplishment - only the second time full zone control has been achieved. And fwiw, I believe that CCP _should_ issue a militia-wide award for the Gallente.

    3. I apologize for letting you down, but I realized I am too far removed from both the situation then and the situation now in order to converse intelligently about the subject. I could contend the assertion that it was easier now for Gallente than it was then for Caldari but the truth is I'd be parroting simply what I've heard and suspect but not what I know for sure.

      Suffice to say I think a lot more than mechanics has changed in the intervening years, to the point where comparing the warzone takeovers is like comparing professional sports teams generations apart.

      The important take away is that the Caldari have started fighting back even harder and 100% warzone control again will be a bigger challenge IMHO.