Interdiction Nullification and Warp Core Stabilizers and Absolutes

I am going to wander into this minefield in the way that only the uncaring can.

Interdiction nullification and warp core stabilizers are twins in that they are hated by subgroups of New Eden.  They are hated because they make getting kills more difficult.  There are plenty of wandering excuses as to why they are bad game play or how the lore shouldn’t support them or whatever, but in the end it comes down to people angry that they missed a kill.

Interdiction nullification is a null sec and wormhole thing, a feature of certain interceptors, a strategic cruiser subsystem, and luxury yachts which allows them to bypass warp disruption fields as though they were not there.  Basically, it allows you to fly through bubbles.

A field of bubbles… they are everywhere in null sec

Bubble come in a few flavors, which are mostly covered over at the EVE Uni Wiki.  But it is pretty safe to say that bubbles are the primary method of holding down hostiles outside of empire space.  They have the advantage of being an area effect tackle method when launched from an interdictor, so if deployed correctly they can hold down a whole fleet.   A null sec fleet commander that undocks without some interdictors isn’t looking for kills.

So, in null sec or wormholes, a ship with interdiction nullification is an exception to what is otherwise a hard and fast rule, that what gets caught in the bubble can’t warp off.  That it is a somewhat recent addition, that many of can remember a time when interdiction nullification wasn’t a thing, makes it all the more contentious and even CCP has seen fit to make changes, removing the feature from combat interceptors last October, ending the reign of the Fozzie Claw.  But it still remains an aspect of fleet interceptors, such as my Ares.

Ares on the move still

And, while people may moan about Slippery Pete Tengus or, more recently, nullified Lokis ranging around space, passing through stop bubbles with impunity, you can still stop them the old fashioned way, the way people have to in low sec.

Which brings us to the warp core stabilizer.  The stab, as the module tends to be abbreviated, fits in the low slot of any ship and adds one to the strength of the warp core of the ship for each stab you add.  That number, warp core strength, is used in the calculation of tackling.  A few subcaps like deep space transports and the Venture have a bonus to warp core that reflects their role, and capital ships have the own bonuses, but for the most part one is the basic number.

A Thanatos getting the tackle treatment

That number gets used against the tackler trying to keep you from warping.  They are likely fitting a warp disruptor or a warp scrambler with which they are trying to keep you from warping away.  The disruptor applies one point of stopping power, while the scramble applies two along with having some side benefits, like shutting down microwarp drives.  There is also the infinite disruptor that HICs can fit and some other details which the EVE Uni wiki covers, but those are the basics.

The simple arithmetic of the encounter is if the tackler applies points equal to or greater than your warp core strength, your ship won’t warp.  If you want to defeat a disruptor you need one stab, while a scrambler requires two.  If somebody has fit two scramblers and your ship only has three low slots, you’re not getting away.

Stabs are not a get out of jail free card however, despite the way they have been cast at times.  They do eat up valuable low slots and they come with a penalty when fit in the form of a hit to scan resolution and targeting range, as this chart indicated. (Chart source)

Warp Core Stab Variations

So fitting a pair of stabs drops your lock range rather dramatically and increases your lock time as well.

The reason I have lumped these two items together is that they have a couple things in common.

First, and most loudly complained about, is that both of them are absolute counters.  If you have interdiction nullification no bubble is going to catch you ever.  If you have warp core strength one greater than the person trying to tackle you, then you absolutely get to warp off, end of story.

It is my read that it is the absolute nature of these counters which gets people worked up.  There are just situations where the prey is going to get away no matter how on your game you are.

That brings me to the second thing that these two things have in common; they both counter mechanics that are themselves absolute.  If you are in a bubble and lack nullification, you won’t be warping anywhere unless you motor out of range or kill the bubble.  Likewise, if you apply points greater than or equal to your target, they don’t get to warp off.  You can argue that they can fight you to get away, but if somebody is trying to get away it probably means the fight is going to you regardless.

There used to be a way to counter getting tackled with a disruptor or scrambler in the form of ECM.  However, people complained loudly about ECM being “cancer” and CCP decided that ECM was not fun or engaging game play, so with that patch last October they made a change so that you can always target the person who is applying ECM.  With that change you could no longer break tackle via ECM.  It was already an unreliable mechanic with a chance to fail, but it was pretty much eliminated as an option at that point.

You can carry ECM drones.  Those have been nerfed as well, but they still have a chance of working.  You better have a a drone bay, no need for other drone types unless your drone bay is large, and a big enough tank that you can wait around aligned to warp while the game rolls the dice to see if the drones will land a hit and break the lock on you.  Your ECM drones also have to live that long, since blowing them up is an option for the tackler.

And yes, you can go reductio ad absurdum listing out all the ways the target could have avoided the situation before they landed in the bubble or were pointed, but you might as well just start with “don’t undock” and save us all the bother.

I am reluctant to endorse any idea that leaves absolute mechanics in place without a counter.

In fact, if it isn’t obvious by now, I am not fond of absolutes like this as mechanics, and even less so as fixes to mechanics.  So when somebody brings up the often discussed on Reddit idea of changing it so stabs simply won’t allow you to lock targets at all, I sigh with dismay at yet another absolute fix that serves the specific needs of one group. (I am also suspicious of simple “just do this…” solutions, as they are almost always faulty, so add that in as well.)

What to do?

I don’t have an answer, but I feel as though people are not asking the right questions around these.  The assumption that warp bubbles, warp disruptors, and warp scrambles ought to be absolute mechanics seems baked into the discussion, so the ongoing drive by some to remove or render useless anything that mitigates these mechanics feels like people bitching about not getting enough kills.

6 thoughts on “Interdiction Nullification and Warp Core Stabilizers and Absolutes

  1. rixxjavix

    You are simply doing what you accuse others of doing.
    There are ways that Eve combat can be less absolute but those require fundamental changes to the mechanics, which, believe it or not have been discussed in detail many times. As you might imagine there is resistance to fundamentally changing those mechanics so they remain. As long as they do we are limited to operating in the environment we have – which is why absolute solutions continue to be presented.

    Most of us just want Eve to be a vibrant and engaging place to play. Nullification and Stabs don’t affect my gameplay but I know they do others. Beyond that however and most importantly are the mechanics behind the need for them. Sometimes in order to cause real change, we are forced to start with the easiest to change. I’ve said this a million times, the Stab itself isn’t the issue, but if nothing else is going to change, then it needs to. We have to start somewhere.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @rixxjavix – I know that various changes to how the mechanics work have been discussed ad nauseum. But the argument that nothing will happen unless we knock down the only exceptions to these absolute mechanics rings a bit hollow when we see how CCP has whittled away other options without follow on change. Remember what happened to ECM?

    Given recent events, if CCP were to remove stabs from the game today, kills would go up a bit and the change would be declared a great success and we could reasonably expect nothing else would happen afterwards. More ships blown up is always the immediate positive metric CCP likes. The Chaos Era continues.

    “Nullification and Stabs don’t affect my gameplay but I know they do others.”

    I’ve read your blog. You have complained in specific detail about stabs. In light of that I find this statement disingenuous at best. But, as with Molea, you seem to want to frame yourself as the champion of “others.”


  3. rixxjavix

    I’m not the champion of “others”, I am the champion of all players. Or at least that is what I try to strive for. Of course I freely admit to my own biases, such as Low Sec and my own corporation and Alliance, but at least Im honest about those.

    Doing something is better than doing nothing. In the end we all play under the same rules and as long as that remains true, Eve will be ok. I’d just like it to be better than ok.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @rixxjavix – Doing something intelligent is better than doing nothing. Pitching a false dichotomy that we must do X or nothing at all does not further that.

    “I am the champion of all players. Or at least that is what I try to strive for.”

    I’ll be my own champion, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. anypo8

    The ECM nerfs are a big thing keeping me from coming back to EVE. I spent a *lot* of time and resources mastering ECM right before I quit: maxed all my levels, wrote some software to help with ECM fit evaluation, etc. I was playing with Signal Cartel, for whom (I assume) the ECM downgrade came as a really big deal. I lost track, but I assume Hugs Fleets are a bit trickier now.

    If CCP gets rid of stabs and nullification they will likely put another big dent in the part of the playerbase that likes to play solo once in a while, and finds fun in playing EVE outside of shooting people and things.

    For me, the biggest attraction of EVE was the diversity. If I want to play straight PVP, there are a billion games that let me do that: heck, even ED has decent PVP. If I want to play straight PVE I’ll probably just sign back into WoW. EVE let me do *interesting* things.

    I see many of the recent changes as damaging to EVE diversity. Exploration seems like it would be much harder now that local is off in null. Even station trading has been nerfed by the recent tax hike.

    To directly address the original point: One game design alternative in situations like this is to add rather than subtract. Warp stabs too strong? Add a counter: perhaps some high-slot tool for reducing their effectiveness. I wonder how many tacklers would be willing to give up a utility high for this? Nullification too strong? Add a counter: perhaps some kind of special bubble that cannot be deployed overlapping a normal one and stops only nullified ships. ECM too strong?… Oh, never mind. Few actually flew with it in the modern era, because it was never quite strong enough to be worth the trouble.

    EVE desperately needs to get an actual game designer with solid outside credentials. (It also needs to rehire an economist.) As an amateur game designer myself, I totally chuckle watching CCP bumble around with this. It’s a real job, and deserves a real professional at the helm.


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