Thursday, January 31, 2013

Straight Lines Versus Spheres

I've been thinking about an article in TheMittani.Com that CSM 8 hopeful Mynnna wrote regarding the discussion around lowering the ranges of jump drives of capital ships. In it he describes the scenarios of living in null sec that require jump drives and the end results:

At this point, I'm sure many readers would like to point out that I'm OBVIOUSLY cherry-picking regions to make a point. They'd be half right - I am trying to make a point. The point is that even today, with the supposedly "excessively long" jump ranges there are many areas of space which can be cut off logistically from Empire by their neighbors. As a result, anyone living in those areas has a couple of choices. They can suck it up and try anyway, hoping they don't get ganked, or that they're able to defend their midpoints against the hostiles surrounding them. Or, they can blue up to guarantee safe passage, which rather defeats their reason to be there in the first place.
I could continue clockwise through regions such as Cache, Detorid, Omist, and Feythabolis, but I think the point is made. Logistical concerns alone already encourage groups to either control far reaching chunks of space to guarantee supply lines, or make nice with those who are closer to Empire, and nerfs to Jump Drive range would only exacerbate this problem. Small groups may well thrive, as they do now, but they won't be alone. After all, what is a power bloc but a grouping of smaller entities?
And on the other side of logistical concerns, warships:
How about those warships I said we'd come back to? People argue that big nullsec groups can effortlessly move across their own space in just a single jump or two, trivializing its defense, and have no problems with making trips across Eve, for they know that they can make it back before an attacker can do serious damage. Admittedly, they're correct about that - with proper preparation, moving capital forces around is relatively straightforward. Their natural conclusion is the same as before - if only the jump range were shorter, holding space would be harder and smaller groups could compete! 
It should be obvious that I disagree with this idea as well. Forcing our capital forces to make another jump or two to move around our space won't dissuade us from holding more space. We'll simply spend the extra resources and move on with our lives. Likewise, a jump drive range nerf won't dissuade someone like Pandemic Legion, famed for their ability to rapidly move capital forces across Eve. Their recent move to Uemon would have required at least six jumps from Fountain. A similar move to X-7OMU in Pure Blind for a notional CFC vs HBC war scenario is at least five jumps, while a trip to Curse to wage war on the nearby residents would take eight or more. Nerfing JDC to 15% per level would increase those numbers to nine, six and ten, respectively, and change little. A few extra accounts for more cyno alts, more prepositioned fuel stocks, all things that PL can afford. But a smaller group? They're hard pressed to do it already, and those extra accounts are a deal breaker. Making it harder to defend their own space or strike against neighbors does them no favors, either.
And to his conclusion.
Even now, the geography of Eve can make logistics difficult to those attempting to go it alone. The threat of "nyncing" alone means hostile neighbors can cut you off, nevermind the challenges of defending a midpoint POS inside enemy territory. A reduced jump range as proposed by many only makes this more difficult. Meanwhile, the increased costs (whether by requiring more jumps, or increased cost per jump or both) do little to cramp the style of already large and organized groups while simultaneously placing a larger burden on the small groups the suggested changes are meant to help. While proponents of these changes are well meaning, they're also short sighted.
Perhaps, in light of these facts, they should advocate for increased jump range instead.
Sorry for quoting so much, but its important to my point to make sure you, the reader, sees that its a well crafted and thought out response. Its hard to refute. Yet, its wrong.

I had to think a long time as to why or how it is wrong as his logic flows very nicely. Disregarding the logistical issue as I think people like me advocating lower jump ranges are not concerned about jump freighter range, I want to address two things.

He concludes that small jump ranges will encourage people to "blue up" their neighbours even more. I respond that when I look at the massive coalitions controlling space right now, can they blue up even more? Are there entities that live in deep non-NPC null sec and don't fall under the umbrella of a larger coalition? I'd like some examples please as I have my doubts.

Secondly, Mynnna spends a lot of time in the warships section of the article pointing out that shorter jump ranges won't impact the speed at which organized alliances can move their fleets, and this point I agree on. But that is not the point I think needs addressing. In December of 20101 I wrote a post titled Tactical Flexibility of Supercarriers which included this image:
Wyvern jump range with JDC IV
That image shows how many systems a Wyvern supercarrier with a pilot having Jump Drive Calibration IV can reach in a single jump from the system of Yong in Amarr space. The problem with jump capable ships is that the range they have is not in a straight line, its in a sphere from their point of origin. This tactical flexibility means than they can project power equally over all those system with only need of a small scout with cynosaural beacon as the requirement.

And I suspect this is why large alliances are so hesitant to use those super capital fleets: because they know their opponents have the same tactical flexibility.

If jump ranges of supercapitals were reduced dramatically, the power projection of capital fleets would be reduced and their tactical flexibility would be lowered while still maintaining most of their strategic influence. Yes, they would be able to cross space quickly with planning and organization, but their ability to stand on overwatch of a region or two would be hindered and might give small entities more opportunities to make use of dreadnoughts and carriers without immediate fear of super capital hotdrop.

And even reducing their jump ranges still does not address their main problem: the only counter to a supercapital fleet is another supercapital fleet. Asakai only continues to confirm this.

EDIT: I'm not saying that nerfing jump ranges is the surefire answer, but I think it should be on the table along with other ideas.

1 - Its sad that this issue has not been addressed in two years. No wonder we have a big blue donut.


  1. Statements like this:

    "Wyvern supercarrier with a pilot having Jump Drive Calibration IV"

    Reduce your credibility rather severely on anything related to capitals.

    1. Wow. You took time to type that?

    2. Its generally accepted practice that all super cap pilots MUST have JDC V.

  2. I'm wondering if maybe instead of nerfing range we need to nerf the fitting of (non-blackops) cynos. What if lighting a cyno for a carrier required a battle ship or another capital ship? One of the major issues in NS isn't that caps can move around quickly, but the ever present risk of hot drop. Uping the ante to a battleship, and increasing the spool up time on the cyno would push dropping caps to a staging area in system. Which in turn would result in more interesting fleet battles.

    There need to be a robust way of preventing reinforcements from just dropping directly into battle. Cyno disruption bubbles that can be deployed in the same 3 basic fashions as warp bubbles would go a long way. I also think caps should be able to use gates in LS, and HS.

    1. All caps, or just non-supercaps, or just supercaps?

  3. I agree that many of us think it is a problem, yet the solution is not an easy one. Lowered jump radius would be a (very) temporary fix to the problem. Their really needs to be a means of limiting total distance traveled per day/week/month.

    1. There* Good grief there needs to be an edit function.

  4. I think a spool-up timer would do more to restrict capital projection than shorter jump range. Reduced range adds the inconvenience of needing more midpoint cynos and will slightly slow down long-range attacks, but sufficient application of resources allows you to circumvent them. A mandatory 5-10 minute wait after jumping means a capital fleet can only move so fast over long distances.

  5. I think those that call for a jump nerf aren't thinking big enough.

    I'm not thinking dropping jump ranges by 25% or even 50%.

    I can't put the djinn back in the bottle and call for the complete elimination of jump drives, but I can call for harsh limits on their use. Mass limits on a single cyno with a spool up timer on both the jump drive and the cyno generator. Titan (and black ops) bridging only works when the titan has to jump first and hold the bridge open to allow a fleet to follow it.

    If I had my way, jump drives would never have entered the game except as a method of moving between ADJACENT systems without the need of a gate. If the null sec folks want a better reason to bring industrialists into null sec, I can't imagine a better one than that the ONLY way to supply null sec fleets is to build the damn ships there because no one is moving ships from hisec to deep null by hopping gates.

  6. Anonymous4:45 am

    I'm surely not the first one with the Idea of a charge up timer.

    The core problem of the current system is (IMO) not that they can jump that far, but that you have near 0 seconds to prevent it. Cyno goes up and before you could lock the cyno ship ~250 enemies are right on top of you.

    Black ops are a special case, they have highly advanced jumpdrives and there for are able to jump on any cyno just like today. Every other ship needs to sync with that cyno field it wants to jump to.

    Black ops bridge: 30 Seconds to fire the bridge
    Jumpfreighters: 1 Minute charge time
    Carrier/dreadnaught: 2 Minutes charging
    S-Carrier: 3 Minutes
    Titan Bridge to open: 3 Minutes
    Titan to Jump through: 5 Minutes

    It wouldn't hurt logistics much as a safe route will still be good working. If you jump through hostile territory you might want to take a bigger ship for your cyno to ensure it lasts long enough.
    If you are in the middle of a fight and a cyno pops up the FC has the chance to call that ship and kill it before large groups of hostile reinforcement come in.
    On the other side, if you are the hostile and want your support in here you have to keep your cyno alive or light it away from the battle and keep the enemy busy.

    And hotdroping would still work. You only need the proper fleet composition. If you need heavy tackle on the field fast its the black ops and later the black ops bridge you want. They are the spearhead of the fleet and after time is ups capitals can move in and later S-carrier and bridged reinforcements.

    1. This is not a bad idea at all but still I dont think its the best.

      If we realise that the problem is not the speed as fleets move but instead the fact that there is no counter to an hotdrop, having a sync timer will not solve it. It will just make moving to damn slow!

      Just imagine a corp moving is HQ to a different region and having to do 100 carrier jumps to move all is corp and members assets. Having any kind of sync timer will just make the OP a nightmare. Moving this ammount of assets takes a couple hours, with a timer would take days!

      So, instead of having a sync timer, why not changing the way cyno modules behave. Instead of cyno oppening at the start of the cycle, it only opens at the end with a spool up time of 30-60 secs, like the ECCM burts. Once cyno is open, it just behaves like today without any delays. And while cyno is charging a warpable beacon appears on the overview.

      This will not hurt so much the big logistic moves neither the combat ones but will give an option for the fleet that is being hot dropped to react. Cyno ship gets on grid or safe and will be there, stuck for a whole minute while cyno is charging giving the option to kill it. BlackOps could be the same but without beacon, giving them the covert option!

      This would force attacking fleets to commit subcap fleets to protect cyno ships before caps arrive.

      But... its still not perfect. It still hurts the guys that just wanna open a cyno to move is carrier or JF through low-sec, since this cyno ships must be disposal (no one wants to throw away a BS to jump a JF) and in a frig, it will just die before the charge end.

      We keep trying to find solutions for the massive cap hotdroppings but he must remember that everyday, thousands of cynos are open for single carriers and JF and these pilots will be affected by the changes.

      That's one of the reasons why there isn't a good solution yet...

    2. "everyday, thousands of cynos are open for single carriers and JF and these pilots will be affected by the changes"

      OK, so lots of folks use jumps to shift stuff around. Its faster and safer than gates. Lots of folks move goods about with freighters using gates, as well, usually in hisec. And I wouldn't be surprised that the volume of that movement is larger than the JF traffic.

      Having said that, what you're implying is that in hisec there is this unsafe method of moving stuff (regular freighters and gates) because space is safer. When space becomes less safe (losec and null) you need another method to move your stuff because . . . you don't like risk in your reward space ?

      I'm not saying that moving a JF isn't risky. Lighting a cyno tends to be a near suicidal action. But if that risk wasn't worth the reward you'd be using gates, regular freighters, and an escort.

      Sounds like to me, that the PVP folks of low and null don't like their valuable cargos ganked and insist on game mechanics that mitigate this risk to the point where only the most coordinated attacks can gank the precious, defenseless ships. Gee, it sounds like the same arguments that PVP folks use to mock the hisec whiners that are calling for changes to make hisec ganking tougher.