Now that I've had time to ruminate about Thera and the related new one hundred Shattered Systems (will they collectively be called S-space or T-Space?) I feel I can pontificate about what these new systems mean.
Thera will be a Fight Club
Akin to low sec, I think we will find that Thera will be a system that no one can completely lock down so medium sized groups will be forced to live along side smaller groups that prey upon the unwary. Logistics should not be too difficult since there is a large number of k-space connections to be made and the four stations will have manufacturing services, but any sort of PvE content or mining will be next to impossible which will limit the upper limit on organizational size (pilots need to make money!). The end result will be a lot of small scale PvP with all classes of ships, especially battleships since there will be no threat of capital escalation threats. Think of any low sec "capital" system like Nennamailia, Huola, Amamake, etc but on a larger scale.
Large Warp Distances Emulate System Jumps Without Bottlenecks
The super large size of Thera means its possible to localize control and combat in various areas with the likelihood of interference from other parts low (although climbing as time goes on in a fight). This reminds me a lot of combat throughout a low sec constellation, except without the bottlenecks in movement that jump gates create. Thera will feel like a small constellation more than a large system, as long as CCP provides enough CPU power.
Standard Shattered Systems will be Day Tripping Systems
Without any ability to set up a POS for long term habitation, normal s-space (I'm going with s-space) will be used by wormholers and k-space day trippers for PvE activities when the opportunity presents itself, but no one is going to live in them. Hunters will check them for contacts when they connect to them too, but I expect the
Small Ship Shattered Systems will be Wastelands
I appreciate what CCP is trying to do here, i.e. create a set of systems that encourages smaller ship activities that have a lower barrier of entry to lower skill point pilots, but... these systems are not going to have even daytrippers very interested in them. Even with the Wolf-Rayet effects I suspect the ships are going to have a slow time doing PvE, and PvP needs a base of targets to escalate to the point where PvPers run into each other often enough while hunting. I picture these systems to be like non-faction warfare low sec systems that lack stations, planets, and moons. Desolate.
I find it very interesting that there are no moons in s-space, including Thera. One can speculate that since originally Wormhole space was intended to be a place players visited for PvE and PvP for short or extended stays, but not actually lived in (hence the lack of ice mining for POS refueling), CCP was taken aback when players simply adapted to the logistics involved in importing POS fuel and made their homes in all levels of w-space anyways. So new s-space seems to say "Fuck POSes" by making sure it is impossible to set them up instead of merely difficult or improbable. Never bet against player ingenuity.
The lack of POSes in s-space will severely limit the ability of players to setup shop in these systems. Will small groups find a way to get an Orca or three in a system and try to live out of them by being very careful when they log the Orca pilot on? I'm sure someone will try it (I did it in a class 1 wormhole for a year).
Overall I get the feeling that s-space is meant to be like NPC null sec in how its a jumping stone between k-space and full on w-space.
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Now, some questions I don't have answers for.
How does Thera and s-space relate to the new space and the new jump gates? Does it represent the first wave of new space, or completely just an extension of w-space?
Will there be a public service made by a third party giving the current locations of Thera's statics so people can make roams there off the cuff? I bet its already being planned.
Does the concept of a huge system that emulates a small constellation have traction in future design plans? Will n-space (new space, natch) be made up of multiple Thera-sized systems? Will there be any wormholes or jump gates at all in n-space?