Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

This is a "tweak"?

OK, I can't resist.  I'm going to weigh in on the jump bridge nerf.

First thing: long-term, and combined with a lot of other changes to jump logistics, I think this is a positive change.  I should: back in February, I proposed something very similar to this change as part of a larger package of jump logistics changes.  It's #5 in the list of "Week 2" changes.  So, long term?  Very positive.  But in the short term, this single change alone, done in a vacuum, is going to have a lot of negative impacts.

I'm going to write this post assuming you don't know how jump bridges work or are used.  So, I beg the forgiveness of those of you that do understand how they work.  ;-)  I'm also going to address these changes strictly from the standpoint of the NC, the group of alliances most affected by this change, since they have the most extensive JB network.

Say that you're a member of Mostly Harmless alliance.  One of your home systems is P-2TTL in Pure Blind.  You own a cloaky hauler, and you'd like to bring a couple of thousand cubic meters of assorted loot from P-2 to high-sec to sell it.  You have two choices: either ride the JB chain, or take 10 jumps through 0.0 from P-2 to Torrinos, the high-sec entrance for Pure Blind.  Those ten jumps take you through X-7OMU, where pretty much everyone who wants to kill PB residents lives, so you might not want to do that.  ;-)  Instead, you can take the JB chain.  How this works is, instead of flying from gate to gate, you fly from JB to JB.  In P-2, you fly to the JB that will take you directly to MT9Q-S.  Once you're in that system, you warp to a second JB that will take you directly to EC-P8R.  Once in EC, you fly to the Torrinos gate and jump through.  That's three jumps instead of ten to get to high-sec.

The nerf is going to remove the ability for there to be two JBs in MT9Q-S.  How MH will almost certainly deal with this will be to put a second JB in a neighboring system.  Mostly Harmless will need sovereignty in this second intermediate system to install the second JB, and it will almost certainly go in KDV-DE.  So instead of "Torr-EC-MT9-P2", their chain will go "Torr-EC-MT9-KDV-P2"... exactly one more jump than what they have today.  KDV is currently held by Spacemonkey's Alliance.  Look for SMA to lose sov in KDV to MH.  And this will happen soon, because it will take three weeks of MH sovereignty before the new Jump Bridge can be installed there.

Goons have a similar issue: their route to Deklein goes Torr-EC to the next-door system, EWOK-K.  Then you ride a JB in EWOK to 4-ABS8, then JB to YA0-XJ.  Four jumps from Torr to YA0 instead of 16 jumps using the gates.  They'll need an additional intermediate system, too.  Look for them to take over sov in R-LW2I, currently held by Controlled Chaos.

So that's the first impact: smaller alliances like Spacemonkey's and Controlled Chaos are going to lose intermediate systems to bigger alliances that will be using them to reestablish their jump bridge changes after this nerf.  In the north, the NC currently has very strict ratting/plexing guidelines for "owned" systems.  These guidelines will likely have to be changed or loosened.  That will make the jobs of the NC diplos harder.

Keep in mind: this is a big way JBs get used.  It has much less to do with trying to avoid risk, and much more with trying to avoid boredom.  Other than two or three busy systems, those 16 jumps from EC to YA0 are through empty systems.

However, once these systems change hands, the second impact is that anyone who wants to try to kill Mostly Harmless logistics will only have to camp one gate: the one between MT9Q-S and KDV-DE.  Cloaky Sabres parked on either side of that gate will make MH's logistics into P-2 more difficult.  The Sabres and the Recons/bombers with them can pick and choose who they want to kill coming through that gate.  Currently, those wishing to screw with alliance logistics camp Jump Bridge POSs with bombers, which is riskier and involves smaller ships and less DPS.  This JB nerf will allow cloakies to camp logistics chains with heavier ships that will be able to kill the logistics faster.  So that's the second impact: this nerf to JBs is a massive buff to cloaky gate-camps, and a corresponding nerf to an individual pilot's ability to do things on their own.

Some people like to call this sort of thing "PvP", but it's not.  It's just ganking ships that can't defend themselves.

As a direct corollary to the second impact, expect jump freighter sales to go through the roof as people just say "screw this" and use JFs to move even small, routine stuff to 0.0 that they're currently moving with cloaky haulers.  That's the third impact.

Fourth impact: those very same JFs are going to have a harder time getting around and supplying 0.0 markets.  P-2 and C4C-Z4, both MH home systems, currently have cyno jammers installed.  This is done to prevent super-carrier fleets from just jumping directly into the system, wreaking a lot of havoc, and then jumping out again before a response fleet can be rallied.  Currently, a MH jump freighter en route to P-2 from Jita can jump directly from the Jita undock to the Aunenen system, then from there to MT9.  Then the JF rides the JB in MT9 into P-2, avoiding the jammer.  Similarly, a JF wanting to go to to C4C-Z4 can currently jump from Torrinos to P-33KR, then ride the JB there to C4C.

Either the JB chains will have to be further tweaked to create "entry systems" one jump away from the station systems (7X-VKB and GME-PQ can serve this function for P-2 and C4C, respectively), or the cyno jammers will have to be "cycled" frequently at scheduled times to let those JFs in.  Don't count on this latter option happening too often, though.  NC alliances are far too riddled with spies for most alliance leaders to allow this.  Again, this is a nerf to the individual pilot's ability to do for themselves in 0.0.  Once this nerf is in place, even routine logistics will have to be done in groups to avoid ganking.

As a result, fifth impact: those with the ability to bring in multiple jump freighters full of ships, ammo, and mods (old money players, in other words) will see their profits increase as their 0.0 market orders sell faster.  Newer individual players without jump freighters will further enrich older players with jump freighters, whereas today they can avoid these massive mark-ups by going to high-sec themselves.  Once the nerf is in place, they'll either have to accept the mark-up, or travel to high-sec with a combat group to avoid cloaky gankers.

Sixth impact: super-carriers attacking NC positions are going to have a very good summer.  The only counter to a raiding super-carrier fleet are fast-response hictors and dictors.  Reducing the number of JBs per system effectively means that hictor/dictor groups looking to catch those raiding fleets have to take twice as many jumps to reach their target systems, and makes it very easy for scout sub-cap fleets working with the super-caps to catch those groups on the gates of the intermediate systems.  Pandemic Legion, in particular, excels at this.  Look for lots of super-carrier-caused carnage over the summer, linked to even more carnage against sub-cap fleets attempting to respond to those super-carriers.  This will only double for those alliances that foolishly try cycling their cyno jammers.

Of course, all of these example impacts to Mostly Harmless pilots assume that the NC will survive the summer.  It's possible that if the DRF really pushes (and continues to have access to PL subcap fleets), that the NC could fall.  Morale in the north is very weak at the moment, and this change will not help.

So, the major losers here are:
  • NC logistics pilots that have to set up the new JB chains;
  • smaller alliances that will lose systems to those expanded chains;
  • individual pilots wishing to handle their own light logistics; and,
  • sub-cap fleets looking to catch raiding super-carriers.
Winners are:
  • super-carrier pilots;
  • cloaky gate-camp pilots;
  • spies;
  • jump freighter manufacturers; and,
  • old-money industrialist/trade pilots that are already stocking 0.0 markets or handling 0.0 logistics.
What remains to be seen is how this change will affect NC PvP fleet organization.  These days, to gather an NC fleet, pilots are expected to individually form up in two to three staging systems convenient to the battle front.  Once formed, these smaller fleets are then gathered into the larger fleet like a snowball rolling downhill, before the combined fleet pushes to the objective systems.  With the increase in cloaky gate-camps that will be one of the inevitable impacts of this change, such individual pre-staging of ships will be more rare.

There are two possible impacts.  Either this change will increase NC fleet participation (since larger groups will have to move out to those staging systems together), or it will stifle NC fleet participation entirely (since individual pilots will no longer feel comfortable moving in ones and twos to the staging systems at times convenient to them).

Once an NC fleet is assembled, this change will have a seventh impact.  As I've mentioned before, a PvP fleet will abide no more than 15-20 jumps before you'd better get them some PvP.  That was the bulk of what the extensive NC JB networks were being used for: shortening the number of jumps between home and PvP for NC pilots.  Make those trips longer, and people will stop showing up for those PvP fleets.

In short, this "minor tweak" is nothing of the sort.  It's going to have major impacts, particularly on the current war between the NC and the DRF.  And that impact will be felt most by the individual pilots and the smallest NC alliances that have already borne the brunt of the war.  If the DRF chooses to capitalize on the inevitable chaos of the rebuilding of the NC JB network, this "minor tweak" might be a major contributing factor to the fall of the NC.  Whether the DRF is going to push their advantage in the war to that extent also remains to be seen.

So, long term?  It's a good, relatively minor change and hopefully, part of a much larger package of 0.0 revisions.  But in the short term, this one change done in a vacuum is going to be huge.

Whew!  Long post, but I hadn't seen the EVE blogs I follow really explore this topic properly yet.


  1. Thank you for a very informative post. I've only been to 0.0 a handful of times as I spend most of my time in low security space.

    I do hope you stay in the game over time as you have a lot to offer.

  2. I think you've done a very good job articulating the whole issue. Personally, I think it would have been a good "finale" change, after everything else that needed to be fixed was fixed. But doing this at the outset was poorly thought out for all the very reasons you described.

    Maybe the word "tweak" in Icelandic means, "Let's make a huge, poorly thought-out change."

  3. I think this signifies the return of Freighter convoys. With enough pilots, you could move a whole lot of stuff in relative safety. Of course, there are always supecap curbstomps to worry about, but barring that, convoys stand a good chance of survival and profit. No fuel costs plus larger cargo area. A well-run logistics chain could undercut the "old money" Jump Freighter pilots.

  4. Excellent post. We knew you couldn't stay away.

  5. Good to see another Jester blog entry. Insightful as always. Wish you would come back, we need more informed commentary, not less.


  6. ^^ What John said.

    Any urge to tackle the Dev Q&A thread? I was thinking the other day its a shame Jester's Trek isn't blogging about the info in there.

  7. My own 0.0 experience has been mostly as a grunt in an alliance too small to have/need a jump bridge network, although we hitched rides from time to time.

    There *is* one more option for the careful pilot interested in handling his own light logistics. If you're willing to invest a little time, you can use the wormhole system as your own personal jump bridge network. I was never sufficiently confident in my ability to drive a blockade runner full of loot up the pipes without ever screwing up and getting caught, so what I would always do was probe out a back door route to high sec. On average it took me about two hours to survey the route, and the average length was six jumps from my home system to highsec or convenient lowsec (that includes jumps in 0.0 to the wormhole system and jumps through w-space.)

    Obviously that's a pain to do, but maybe less painful than buying a jump freighter. It's at least easy enough that you can say "Today I'm going shopping in Jita" anytime you have a reasonably long play session to devote to it.

    I don't really have enough experience to opine on the nerf, except to say that it's stunning CCP still thinks it has enough credibility to say "we're nerfing this today and will balance it in fixes at some distant future date." I understand why they feel they need to do it this way, I just don't understand why they feel saying that would do anything but enrage people further.

  8. It is difficult to be in NC these days. It seems the universe is against us, and then these tweaks seem directed against NC makes it feel like the hand of God has emerged again to punch us in the gut. As you mention, the changes are not so bad in a coordinated rework of nullsec, but these aren't coordinated into anything except a concerted effort to destroy an alliance that was forged fairly within the confines of the EVE rules. Why nerf logistics and subcaps and leave supercaps unscathed?

    The answer is simple. CCP is more concerned with bloblag than anything else. Even with the proliferation of supercaps, there still aren't fleets of 1000-2000 of them slugging it out in a system. The changes slow down the blob of supporting subcaps that show up in the hundreds while allowing the 100-200 supercap fleet to travel freely. It also disproportionately punishes the defender's ability to respond to attacks. That accomplishes a second goal for CCP. It makes holding larger swaths of space difficult. Hopefully CCP will get the remainder of its changes into place to balance these changes out, but I expect anything that might help NC won't be "finished" until the alliance is destroyed...helped out by a few more punches from God.

  9. Glad to see you post.

  10. Another excellent post; makes me wonder if the CSM has the same insight into these issues as you do; but I would also imagine that they are looking towards a bigger picture and while the impact on these changes seem huge they are only a part of a much larger change that will probably change the purpose of bridges.

    I'm not a 0.0 player at all so my opinion is purely speculative but it sounds like the idea of having more contention will only provide more conflict and fun in nullsec.

    I think CCP were worried that the large alliances were getting fat, bloated and complaciant; to the point where alliances wouldn't lift a finger against each other because it wasn't worth the effort or it wouldn't make much of a difference.

    As with any war supplies are the oil that keeps the war machine moving and cutting off those supplies is a viable and often more efficient tactic than simply killing your enemy (espeically if they are immortal :P); so forcing players into choke points provides ample oppertunity for ambush and conflict.

    It would then be down to the most organised alliance that can provide and protect it's own supply lines that will prosper while the others will be simply starved out.

    Longer term I can see this change as a step towards the null sec 'self sufficiant' state with the whole 'farms and fields' which will act as an alternative to running supply convoys. The old question of 'build or buy?'; both will have an element of risk and it will be down to how the alliances control & counter those risks that will determine the strength and durability of an alliance.


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