Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Sansha are coming, the Sansha are coming!

With the new expansion forthcoming, CCP is going to introduce a new feature that will have players scrambling against an invasion force of Sansha's Nation. These invasions can happen anywhere, anytime for any reason, from high sec major hubs to null sec back-end systems. There will be no Sansha in W-space from what I can tell. As someone who lives in a wormhole, I'm sure you're thinking “So?”

Does anyone realize how badly people in K-space are about to get their asses kicked?

Let's review. In addition to several Sansha's ships disrupting trade and gatecamping, the Sansha's fleets got serious upgrades to the already cakewalk (for us) Sleepers. On top of that, CCP introduced system wide penalties to make it even harder. What sort of penalties, you ask?

  1. System wide reduction of shield/armor resistances to insure you blow up.
  2. System wide reduction of all turret/missile/drone/smartbomb damage to insure you can't fight back.
  3. Jamming of cynosural fields in system, or, No Cap For You!
  4. 50% reduction in NPC bounties in system, so you can't ignore them.

In addition, Sansha have sleeper AI that CCP actually improved (as it was already really good) and designed fleets with player fits in mind. So unlike in w-space where we blow up the traditional BS, Cruiser and Frigs that all can scram, web, remote rep and whatnot, the Sansha will have ECM, bombers, logistic ships, interceptors and all kinds of stuff even us WH dwellers have never seen.

Its actually poetic really. Would be a great story about how the k-space dwellers were getting their asses kicked and here comes those of us from beyond the realm to save the day. For those of us who live in wormholes and blow up sleepers all day, its pretty much a yawn fest for us. Even with the penalties. Wormhole corps are generally used to working together for a common goal, and the penalties aren't anything we can't overcome.

However in k-space? Well that is a different story.

Null sec should be fine. Most null sec alliances are huge so coming up with the pilots shouldn't be an issue. Most of the time I'm sure the Sansha are going to invade something lame that no one has ever heard of or cares. The only time it would matter is if the Sansha invade a contested system in Null sec. If that happens, grab your popcorn, get your stealth ship and enjoy the show.

High sec will be amusingly better off, if only slightly. Lots of mission runners make their homes in high sec so mustering people to fight off the Sansha shouldn't be too hard; although they are all going to get their asses kicked and ships blown up because they have never faced anything as advanced as sleeper AI. Seriously, most of them just grab aggro from the room, release drones and go watch a movie. Teamwork? Pretty much non-existent in high sec with the few notable exceptions. Most I feel won't go purple with people they don't know in their faction fitted mission ship.

Low sec? Well low sec will be a disaster. The problem with low sec is... well, there isn't anyone there. The pirates who whine and cry about low sec being unpopulated are the very plague that caused it to be that way. They have simply overhunted to the point that no one trusts each other and rarely do you find more then one person in system from different corps.

Amusingly, CCP, in what I perceive as a move to appease those very same whiny “low sec sucks” pirates, has moved the gems of the Sansha's invasion to Low Sec. Sort of a “come back to low sec moment, we matter now!” Low sec is the only place where the “boss” Sansha have a chance to drop the blueprint for the Sansha supercarrier. You want to know who's going to get that? It isn't people who live in low sec. It will be null sec alliances who roll in, smash all the toys and take what they want as they are the only ones that can operate on that level.

CCP has created this content to insure that the players could not “solo” the Sansha and take all the rewards for themselves. They have implemented ideas, fleets and system wide penalties to insure cooperation between the pilots. In doing so, they have insured this content will fail like nothing has ever failed before.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about trust, and how there isn't any in game.

Did CCP learn nothing from World of Warcraft?

Stay with me here, I get that WoW is kind of a forbidden topic to most Eve players. If that applies to you, you need to get over yourself. I know several players of Eve who came to the game after playing WoW first. It has like 50 billion people playing it, chances are some of them play Eve too. As an Ex-Wow player myself, I feel that CCP could learn a few lessons from the mistakes made by the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

What mistakes am I referring to that CCP is making?

This Sansha's invasion stuff reminds me of Raiding in WoW. A long time ago when WoW first started doing raids, they were huge 40 man affairs that required 40 people to all be on the ball and paying attention. As a raid leader, do you know how hard it is to get 40 people to focus all at once? If you don't, ask your FC how he does when leading a huge fleet. Its difficult work at best, nigh impossible at worst.

And now CCP wants players to band together in fleets of at least 20 to 40 to take on the Headquarter sites? Because lets be honest. Its the supercarrier blueprint everyone is after, and chances of that thing dropping in the Vanguard sites aimed at small player groups of 5-10 just isn't going to happen.

If you haven't figured how how fail this is yet, let me break it down for you. Blizzard realized that trying to get 40 people together, on, and paying attention was difficult. So they dropped the number. Now players can raid instances with just 25 people, or 10 man raids for the easier version. The result? Great Success! More players could get involved, leading the raids was easier and everyone got more loot.

40 people CCP? Really? Why don't you just hand these things out to the null sec alliances. It would just be faster in the end. Because those are the only people who will be able to muster those kind of numbers on short notice. Everyone else is going to die horrible horrible deaths either by the Sansha or that pirate you let in and he, not surprisingly, shot you in the back. In the end CCP isn't making Low sec more desirable, its making it the game equivalent of “nice place to visit, but I'd hate to live there”.

This brings me to the second topic, loot. Now those people who can actually muster in a corp to take down these smaller sites won't really be affected by this. But in the Eve version of the WoW PUG (pick up group) this is going to be huge. None of the Sansha's ships drop loot. None of them. They aren't worth bounties. The only way to make money on these is to be the group that does the “majority” of the site, and then you get paid out from that. Its really no different then how most WH corps do sleeper sites, but we are used to this method of payment. The shitty thing is if you help but are not in that “winning” fleet, you don't get anything for your efforts. Or, if there are too many people in fleet, everyone gets diminished rewards.

As for modules and blueprints? Well those only drop off the end boss, which is going to cause serious headaches for everyone. Basically its going to be a “who can loot the wreck first” race that no one is going to enjoy. I'm sure there will be all kinds of underhanded tactics, like quick looting, FC's dismissing people from the fleet just before the guy goes down to cut them from the pay and the ability to loot, etc, etc, etc.

And some of you reading this might be like “its not going to be like that.” I'm here to tell you it will. Eve is the only game I know that rewards players for underhanded, foul, backstabbing, scam-running, fleet shooting tactics that go on in game. And this is going to be exactly like that. And someone is going to loot the wreck, someone in fleet is going to kill that guy, and poof, there goes the loot. Or he gets away, leaving everyone with a bad taste in their mouths. WoW had the same problem with “ninja-looters” until Blizzard implemented a looting system. There is no such thing in Eve so the only recourse anyone has is to shoot the offender. Which is really a small consolation when that rare blueprint worth billions in the B goes up in smoke.

At the end of the day it will be the null sec alliances who profit from this little incursion.  Well, them and us WH corps, when we get a null or low sec hole that has an invasion force nearby we just appear out of nowhere and take it.  
Because its not like low sec would stop us.


  1. Brilliant post. I think you're right on the money. At first, I believe folks will optimistically try the PUG approach but become more and more disillusioned with it as "EVE mentality" asserts itself time and again. After that trend becomes obvious, how much do you want to bet that the one-per-region-at-a-time and respawn rate will change or that the mechanics related to obtaining the BPC get changed?

    -- Mynxee

  2. Appending "Don't diss my lowsec, we know it be broke" to Mynxee's response above ;) InterDict.

  3. Well yeah, I don't completely agree with Shadai's low sec assessment unrelated to Sanshas. The Sansha forecast, though...right on target.

  4. This is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs. A really well thought analysis on the coming features of incursions. I am the optimistic type of eve player though so I am of course hoping for the best. The content does sound like alot of fun and great group pve at least.

  5. It will be interesting to see if things develop as you predict, or something else -- entirely unexpected -- happens.

    My first thought was that the nullsec alliances would blob the final stages of lowsec incursions to get the BPC, using multiple fleets. I wonder if the isk/hr is going to be good enough to make it worthwhile for them, though.

    -- Trebor

  6. Having played with the Sanshas on the test server, I think you underestimate how completely outclassed mission runners, or anyone else used to hi sec, will be. Even fleets of ECM, Logis, and BS/HACs regularly lose half their fleet in any given encounter in my experience.
    A fleet of mission running Drakes and Ravens will be slaughtered.

  7. Great blog!

    Just discovered it from Teadaze's link and added to my reader instantly :-)

    Now, we decided to move out of wspace after a year and live out of a station rather than a POS - until CCP decides to look upon how to improve living in wspace we are not going back.

    We will be focusing on high-end wormholes and Incursion stuff from our new base in deep 0.0 and we'll see what the new PVE has to offer.

    I tend to hold any judgement until they release the actual content in TQ - hopefully they'll re-think about all these issues before they go public

  8. Sounds good all of it.

    I'll laugh at both the high-sec haulers getting caught in Sansha camps _AND_ the unorganized fools trying to run sites. It was funny enough listening on TS when some former alliance corps tried to run sleeper sites, empire carebears will be even funnier.

    This expansion is bringing something very important to EVE; a changing environment. Something that only was available in w-space until now.

  9. Congrats on a very interesting and provocative blog!

    I wonder what changes CCP will implement after the HiSec massacres and massive moaning & whining about the unfair ship losses and huge advantages the mega-large corps have?

    Thank you for the Good laughs :)

  10. actually you missed something. CCP are well aware that only null sec alliances will be getting the BPCs. Sov null sec is the only space where the MS can be built.