There has not been a lot going on when it comes to the strat op front in EVE. There is no summer war. The groups in the nearby NPC space have stopped coming out in force, apparently feeling content to gank ratters they can catch. And, I have to admit, as amusing as a Baby Lemba fleet can be, ops that are billed as 2-3 hour roams just don’t make me happy. I like a kill of opportunity as much as the next capsuleer, but I also like ops to have a mission, a purpose beyond “lets find something to shoot.”
I am just an objectives oriented person. This is why I like quests and levels and reputation and achievements and all sorts of other things that are now in the default MMO bag of tricks. This aspect of my personality can, at times, make EVE Online a questionable game for me. My career in New Eden has been a series of goals which, once achieved, tend to leave me knocking around looking for something else to do. Null sec has worked out so far because, as a coalition, we often have discreet, concrete objectives. Defend space. Cover capital ops. Defeat opposing fleets.
Even a tower shoot works for me.
So I was happy enough to go along to put a couple of Black Legion towers into reinforce the other day. As with a number of other ops of late, the form up was in VFK-IV, but as soon as we were in motion, it became clear that we were headed down to Delve. It is one of those things… if I hadn’t just clone jumped to VFK to get to where the main fleet was staging, I would have just jumped to our old staging system in Delve where I keep a jump clone and ships for a few doctrines, at least one of which we still use.
Not that the trip was a big deal.
By gates, according to DOTLAN, the quickest route is 47 jumps, taking you from Deklein into Pure Blind and Cloud Ring, then the full length of Fountain, and across half of Delve, to arrive at the nominal “capital” of Delve, NOL-M9.
But the jump bridge network cuts that down to roughly a third of the jumps, so the trip goes fairly quick even in battleships. The route is well known by this point, it is pretty close to the gate route suggested by DOTLAN, and frequently camped, so you do not want to fall behind or leave late and try to catch up when an op is on. But the presence of 90 battleships and another 30 support ships landing on a camp is enough to get them to scatter for a while.
The op actually ran a bit longer than I expected. We got down there in short order and formed up with the forces that were already down in Delve there or along the way, The LAWN gnomes live down in Delve now and Fatal Ascension is in Fountain. But the capital ships were poking along, taking their time. Dreadnaughts always show up for tower shoots these days, as they speed things up. Baltec fleet is mostly there to cover them while they are sieged up and during the shoot. So we went ratting as a fleet for a while and ran through an anomaly that actually had an escalation, which kept us busy for a bit. But eventually the dreads were in range and it was time for business.
There were two Black Legion towers that had been dropped in the CFC rental space. We hit them without incident. The dreads pulled out and we began to withdraw as well. There was some chasing about as the Delve contingent went to head home and ran into hostiles, and news that there was going to be activity in the pipe from Delve to Deklein must have gotten out, as there were several camps looking for stragglers. One camp even hung out too long as we piled through a gate, allowing me to lock up and get a shot off at an interceptor before it blew up. I didn’t do any damage, but my beams were on the way, so I was credited on the kill mail.
While we ended up having to circle back a couple of times to rescue somebody, eventually we all arrived home, op success.
Another day in space. Hardly worth a mention, except for the few screen shots I included at the end of the post. Space is always pretty.
However, it is currently in vogue to debate exactly the sort of thing we did in that op. Force projection and the ability of the three null sec powers (PL, N3, and the CFC, ignoring any alliance between PL and N3) to get fleets around space quickly to maintain their empires against all external threats is the current favorite topic in the ongoing “null sec is stagnant and/or broken” discussion.
Over at EVE News 24 there was a post last week suggesting that capital ships needed to be nerfed, followed up by a post with a longer laundry list of things to kill off “easy” force projection, which included things like nerfing jump bridges into complete uselessness. (And another one slipped in while I wasn’t looking, and another.) Over at The Mittani there is a post up that includes interviews with a few stakeholders in the argument that seems to argue that changing force projection would cut both ways… the big null sec blocs are the ones most likely to be able to adapt to any changes… and that other mechanics in play, such as the fact that time dilation holds battles in stasis so that force projection can be leisurely and still get their in time, as well as the long standing complaints about how sovereignty works, mean that just focusing on travel time won’t change much.
This is one of those “something is wrong so we need to do something, anything to fix it” discussions that seems ripe for unintended consequences and subject to conflicting goals.
I do not think there is a universally agreed upon place where people want null sec to go. “More fun” gets brought up now and again, but fun is subjective, to the point I have been told I suffer from cognitive dissonance when I find things fun that don’t meet some criteria. So how do we figure out what fun is in a game that can be argued is objectively not fun (Press F1. Whee.) and when people find fun in so many different things?
And then there are the different groups who are clearly working at cross purposes. CCP wants more big fights, because that makes the news and gets subscribers, as do a lot of the line members in null sec alliances. Those running the current power blocs want fun some fun for their line members, for whatever definition they may choose, as that keeps them subscribed and in space, while not having their power degraded. There is a vocal group that wants to see null sec Balkanized into a series of small holdings where space isn’t empty, as most systems in null tend to be, but teeming and lived in and bloody from constant conflict. And then there is a current pushing for null sec to be… well… for lack of a better term, useful, at least for something more than just epic space battles. Some aspect of CCP wants that, given some of the industry changes they were proposing for Kronos. (Which got pushed out due to their controversial nature.) And there are probably groups out there I haven’t accounted for that want any number of other things.
But there is certainly no unified vision of what null sec ought to be that I have seen. There isn’t even such a thing from CCP that I have run into.
And, in something of an ironic twist, null sec might be getting more use right now than it has in the past. Sure, there are no giant battles, and the likelihood that any group in game is going to be able to dislodge one of the three great powers is exceedingly small. Internal rot and collapse seems to be the only hope on that front. But what do you see when you look at the sovereignty map? (From the usual source)
You can say “stagnation.” That is a defensible answer. There were no sovereignty changes today. There were none yesterday. There will likely be none tomorrow.
But I cannot help looking at all the space devoted to the rental empires. On the map, Northern Associates, Brothers of Tangra, and Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere color in most of space. And while that is certainly a case of the rich getting richer, each of the power blocs make a lot of ISK through the renting of null sec space, that also means that there are more than 600 corporations currently in null sec working systems… ratting, mining, whatever… that likely wouldn’t be out there if space rental was not an option. Yeah, I want more big fights, more objectives, more systems to take, but is the rental aspect of the current situation a bad thing?
I don’t know the answer. I am not sure I understand the question. But I am very suspicious of anybody solution put forth that suggests that a simple change focused on one area will result in everything being better when it comes to a complex system like EVE Online.
So I’ll just play the tourist. Here are some pictures our time in Delve.