Thursday, November 29, 2012

[Proposal] Lowering the Barriers

Right now there is a dearth of players in null, this is nothing new, nullsec has historically been full of empty space. What is new is the lack of independent entities struggling against each other. There are three major power groups in nullsec today, CFC, HBC and Everyone Else. This is a player created element of the sandbox, it was not created by CCP, though dominion sov did help propagate it. I believe this could be solved by tweaking the HP and reinforce timers of sov structures based on activity indexes. Now stick with me, this is going to take some explanation.

The basics
(skip this if you know the terms, hitpoints and sov mechanics)

Currently, to siege a system with three entrances I must: acquire and deploy at least two SBUs. I must online them, and defend them until they online. I must then grind down any Ihub and/or stations present in the system to their first reinforcement timers. Then I must grind them down to their second reinforcement timers and kill the TCU. Once I have done all this, I need to anchor my own TCU and the system is now mine.

A current Sovereignty Blockade Unit (SBU) has: 10m shield @50% resists, armor @50% resists and structure @ 0% resists = 50m EHP.

A current Infrastructure Hub (IHub) has 192.25m EHP and two reinforcement timers, one in shield at 25% shield (after 56.5m shield) which it exits at 0% shield and one in armor at 50% (after 56.25m armor) which it exits at 25% armor.

Current stations have no documented health, but I understand them to be similar if not exact clones of IHub EHP and reinforcement.

A current Territory Control Unit (TCU) has: 10m shields, armor and structure at 0% resists, so 30m EHP.
To take a three gate station system, my forces and I need to destroy 320.76m EHP. (145.38 for the Ihub, 145.38 for the Station and 30m for the TCU)

To defend a three gate station system, my forces and I need to destroy 100m EHP (50m EHP for each SBU). This assumes that I don’t want to clean up the 3rd that they invariably dropped as well.

For comparison’s sake, lets talk about some structures more people have had dealings with. A small Caldari control tower, and a Player Owned Customs Office (POCO).

A small Caldari control tower has 14.5m raw HP, if you are shooting it with EM it has 0% base resists. It has a reinforcement timer at 25% shields that is no longer than 41.5 hours and it exits that reinforcement timer at 25% shields.

A POCO has 14.5m raw HP and no resists. It reinforces at 25% shields and exits reinforce at 0% shields, saving you 2.5m EHP of grinding. It’s reinforcement timer is variable, but averages ~36 hours, and is always under 48.

Dealing with all that EHP
Now that you have an idea of just how much EHP we’re talking about. Lets explain what it takes to reliably chew through all of that. Your average DPS battleship or Tier 3 BC does 1k DPS. So to chew through those 320.76m EHP with 30 of them is going to take you ~3 hours (178 minutes).  If you have 100, you’ll get it done in just under an hour (53.5 minutes).

Let us say you’re fielding capitals. Carriers average 1k DPS (Thanatos get as high as 1.75k) and dreads average 10k DPS (Moros get as high as 15k), but are stuck for 5 minutes at a time. With 10 dreads, it’ll take just under an hour (53.5 minutes). With twenty, it’ll take about thirty minutes (26.7). Bare in mind, those dreads are stuck, so you are very likely going to lose them. You can use supers though, and that will drastically improve your survivability, but instead of 30b in dreads, you must field 300 billion in supers (average nyx comes to 30b between hull and gear).

Not too bad right? Sadly all those lovely numbers assume you are doing it in one sitting. In reality it takes you at least 2 separate operations, so add on 30 to 40 minutes of form up time and however long it takes you to get there and back. This means that each of those operations is a 3 hour grueling structure grind operation, and between each of those operations you have to wait on average 36 hours for a reinforcement timer. This means that to take a system it takes at least a 4 days! It can get worse though, you might be unable or unwilling to take the station and the ihub down at the same time, so now it takes FOUR separate operations. Those four will be slightly faster, but still be in the neighborhood of two hours each, and then it can take up to a full week to take the system!

So, in summation, taking a three gate station system requires between six and eight hours of fleet ops over the course of about a week and each op must have either 100 DPS Tier 3 BCs or BS, 10 dreads on a suicide path, or 300 billion isk in supers. This is for a single system, and it discounts passive regen on all the shields as well as the deployment and onlining time of SBUs (3 hours).

This massive block of EHP and time is why we have the super coalitions we have today. The numbers are required to play the game. If we want to see new groups in nullsec duking it out, these EHP bricks need to change.

Desired Effects
I would like to make it so that territory is held based on activity level more than the owner’s capacity to project force. That is, if a sov owner is out attacking some other alliance, I would like a smaller group to be able to come in and take a few of that owner’s outlying systems. Think of it as the barbarians versus the Romans and the fall of the Roman empire. This is currently impossible because it takes a week and 8 hours of fleet operations to take a single system, let alone a constellation.

Undesired Effects
The ability to rapidly sack another group’s capital

The Proposal
To this end, I propose that the current HP for all sov structures, excluding SBUs, be tied to military and industrial indexes. Each structure would then have it's base hitpoints reduced to 10% of it's current hitpoints. For each index level, excluding strategic, the structure gains 10% of it's hit points under the current system. Should the structure have had a reinforcement timer under the current system, it will gain one reinforcement (based on stront, not some timer) for each index at lvl 5, excluding strategic.

Under the proposed system, an ihub in a solar system with military and industrial at 0 will have just under 19.25 million EHP and no reinforcement timer. An ihub with industry 5 and military 0 will have one reinforcement timer and roughly 115.5m EHP.  An ihub in a military and industry lvl 5 system will have 211.75m EHP and two reinforcement timers. An unused system with a TCU and Ihub will have 23.25m EHP and no reinforcement timer.  A heavily used capital system with a station, ihub and TCU will have 456.5m EHP along with 2 reinforcement timers for the station and 2 for the Ihub.

Outcome Analysis
The proposed system will make it HARDER to take an extremely active system by INCREASING the EHP  of sov structures in it. However it will make a lesser or unused system substantially easier to take. This means that active areas of space, such as a capital systems will be much harder to take. Active ratting or mining systems will be noticeably easier to take while still being difficult, and unused systems will be substantially easier to take. In essence, it will lower the barriers to nullsec by opening up guerilla warfare as a viable tactic.

By scaling EHP and reinforcement timers in this manner, we create lesser controlled border zones between the activity hubs of large alliances. This will fundamentally alter the status quo of sov holding alliances as new vulnerabilities open up all across their space. Small groups will be able to border skirmish with larger alliances and potentially hold space despite their smaller size.

To be precise, that 30 man BC/BS gang from earlier that would've taken just under 3 hours to take a system, can now take an unused system in twelve and a half minutes. They must still place and wait for  SBUs to online (~3 hours), so it doesn't allow for pure harassment, but it definitely opens the door for smaller groups.

But what about Moons?
Those of you who are in the know realize that this change does nothing to help the young alliance acquire moons. That is O.K. The goal of this proposal is to get people into nullsec. When there are more people in nullsec, those new people will find a way to acquire moons.

Possible Supporting Changes
-        It may be necessary to reduce the strategic index level for cyno jammers to support younger groups holding space.
-        It may be necessary to tweak the activity levels required to move indexes up or down to better balance EHP distribution across a space empire.
-        It may be necessary to increase anomaly spawns to increase player density per system to allow for large alliances to concentrate force.

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