How do you solve a problem like the Drifters?
How do you catch their ships and pin them down?
How do you find these un-scannable grifters?
These gate camping, structure shooting clowns?
-Drifters, from The Sound of Null Sec
The Drifter attacks on null sec, which I first mentioned last week, carried on through the weekend… a weekend where many of us were waiting around to get back home to Delve to face this Drifter menace.
On the bright side, depending on where you stand, the Drifter problem has been “solved” for specific definitions of the term. So I guess I don’t have to work on any more lyrics. Over on Reddit there is a detailed examination of the behavior of the Drifters attacking null sec.
On the down side, the Drifters don’t seem to be doing much of anything that anybody really wants. They are not blowing up null sec structures, except on accident that one time it seems. This won’t be the purge of null sec that some people are crying out for. Bots are not being targeted. It has little impact on AFK ratting or Rorqual mining. Moon mining might take a bit of a hit, since the Drifters cluster around structures, which is where moon mining also happens, but Locust fleet, the monthly harvesting of moons in Querious, went off as usual yesterday, so not even that is being held back very much. This is basically a mild annoyance that impacts a few people and which won’t change any of the things that some people are hoping for.
Also, it isn’t providing much in the way of new content. These are not incursions, which people enjoy doing, or even the Triglavian invasions that have been hitting high sec, which reward people for participating. The Drifters don’t even seem to be dropping much in the way of loot or salvage. The Drifters just show up in three systems in a given region (except in Delve, where they show up in more systems, because we needed another reason for Goons to feel singled out by CCP I guess), the people who can gun citadels fly out, blow them up, and life goes on as normal… unless you are one of the assigned gunners, in which case your life is non-stop running around your home region popping Drifter fleets.
Or if there is a low power structure that can’t be gunned. Then a fleet has to go out to shoot the Drifters, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as it sounds. I was on such a fleet yesterday.
The Drifter AI is very twitchy. The ships warp in and out regularly, they move fast, they align fast, they have the sig radius of a frigate, and if they target yo inside of your lock range you are dead.
And if they do sit still long enough to lock up and hit, they die pretty quickly to a pack of battlecruisers so you are as like as not going to get a shot in. Not that it matters. If you kill them all they just respawn… but maybe they will pick another structure in their random ways.
The twitchiness of the behavior extends to bugs as well. If they do lock you up as you warp away, they do not lose lock. We sat and let a structure repair because the Drifters around it had locked up a couple of our logi… they always lock logi first… and were busy firing away at them past 1,100km.
Fortunately that seems to be past their optimal, so they are not deadly at infinite range.
Anyway, Drifter fleets are annoying and fighting them isn’t particularly satisfying. It is yet more unsatisfying PvE in a game full of dull and unsatisfying PvE. My hope is that this is part of the Invasion expansion events and that come Wednesday it will change or evolve or otherwise become part of the “Drifters vs. Triglavians” story in New Eden.
Otherwise, as a line member in null sec I can avoid it for now. Defense fleets are not that common. I went on the one out of curiosity as much as anything. I don’t have rights to gun GSF structures, or even TNT structures. (I can gun corp structures, but I don’t think we have any.) The people this hits, the people who get all the notifications and have to run out to gun all the structures under attack, are in leadership. Move ops home were delayed or cancelled a few times due to the people assigned to run them being tied up gunning structures in order to shoot Drifters.
So, unsurprisingly leadership… the leadership of many null sec groups, not just the Imperium… are unhappy about this. The Mittani, who was keen to continue prosecuting the war in the north, seems especially put out, though I don’t know if he was among those out gunning structures.
Unable to do anything about the Drifters directly, save from shooting them and then watching them respawn, a null sec cartel has been formed to send a message of displeasure to CCP. The null sec groups are not shooting each other, so now they’re working together. The mythical blue donut, ever the complaint about null sec, even when we are fighting each other, has been achieved to the greatest degree ever.
The plan, which I gather stemmed from Ayrth, CSM member and economic leader of the Imperium, involves an embargo of raw materials from null sec. We are being asked to not ship any minerals, moon goo, or other such items to the high sec markets like Jita. The idea is to have some impact on the economy and high sec production concerns.
Finished goods are allowed to be exported. So ships and modules and nanite repair paste and whatever.
The question is what sort of impact this might have. There was certainly some fluctuation in pricing on some raw materials as soon as this was announced. But nobody knows how deep the market backlog in Jita really is. If people are sitting on a few days worth of products and raw materials, this could have an impact in the near term. If the market stockpiles are a month deep or more, there might be no noticeable change between now and whenever this event ends.
As with any cartel, the incentive to cheat might be too much. If the prices go up dramatically, some individuals may want to cash in with a bit of moon goo, and all the more so since the prices in null sec will be depressed due to market saturation. The Imperium is not going to go the Circle of Two route, where GigX, in fine third world dictator fashion, required all raw materials be sold to the alliance, and was scanning outbound freighters and blowing up the ones that were smuggling. Cooperation with this is voluntary, which means some people may use the opportunity to profit.
Whole corps or alliances may want to cheat. What better way to outfox Goons than to make a pile of ISK while they are hoarding their raws?
And the whole Drifter thing may not last long enough for this to have any impact. Well, no impact aside from heated rhetoric. But the marketplace of ideas in New Eden has always had an oversupply of that.
As with the Drifters themselves, this doesn’t have much direct impact on me, if any. I neither buy nor sell raw materials, and the finished goods I buy are usually off of alliance contracts which are often for things produced in Delve. Things might get cheaper. But it is more likely that I won’t notice any change at all.
And so it goes. We shall see what happens, if anything at all happens. But the game remains impressive even for the potential of what might happen.