One of the most interesting changes hinted at in the CSM Summit Minutes is the proposed change to sentry guns, particularly in low-sec. You'll find the relevant bits on page 95 of the Minutes:
CCP Greyscale moves on to explain his work on sentry guns. Sentry guns will now shoot anyone with a criminal flag, suspect or otherwise. Sentry guns will also start with smaller amounts of damage, and ramp up with time. Ideal tuning will be to where triage carriers will die at around 4 1/2 minutes. This way, if you want to use triage carriers in lowsec on gates you can, but you must commit to the cycle for a length of time before starting your reps, if you want to deactivate triage before the sentry guns kill you and jump out. CCP Greyscale also points out that another goal is to make it so that the first couple of hits won't kill an interceptor immediately, enabling a quick tackle, and then a warp out.Needless to say, this proposed change is upsetting a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.
For those not familiar with the mechanics of the new Crimewatch system, you'll be given a "suspect" flag when you do anything the game regards as "illegal." The simple examples, of course, are things like non-war-dec tackles or combat in high- or low-sec. Less obvious means of making yourself a suspect, though, will be can-flipping and neutral repping. None of this is in-game yet... the Minutes specify that CCP will be trying for a December release but it seems likely that it'll be pushed back to 2013.
Your average can-flipper despises the idea of getting targeted by sentry guns for his favorite activity, obviously. Can-flipping is often used for scamming new players into losing ships in fights they're not prepared for. But Alekseyev Karrde points out in the Minutes that it's also occasionally used for legitimate 1v1 fights in high- and low-sec as well. CCP is looking at changing the mechanics for such fights to make it more obvious what's about to happen. The relentless march to make EVE safer for new and naive players continues. Still, that's not what this post is about. I'm much more interested in the implications of this change as it applies to low-sec.
I've spent significant amounts of time living in all five types of EVE space: high-sec, low-sec, NPC null, sov null, and w-space. And despite the terror that low-sec prompts in the hearts of the bulk of players living in high-sec, low-sec might be the safest space in EVE. Sure, you can get shot there. But there are four things about low-sec space that make it a relatively safe place to hang out:
- hardly anyone goes there, because most EVE players are paranoid about it;
- those people that do go there are generally paranoid about it, and as such keep a close eye on Local and their directional scanner;
- only ships that can take gate-gun fire generally bother even trying to tackle anyone in low-sec; and,
- because of the first three factors, ships not already involved in low-sec activities are actually rarely targeted and destroyed there unless they do something dumb.
And the relative dearth of people who are even in low-sec means that it's a simple matter to use a smaller T1 frigate or destroyer to scout for something as large as you like. I routinely run battleships through low-sec with a frigate scout and have never had any problems. If the frigate comes through a gate and finds a camp, the frig warps off somewhere, the battleship docks up in the system prior, and you wait for the camp to go away. Simple. But the risk of such a thing happening is pretty small because low-sec is so thinly populated these days. If you stay out of faction warfare space, you can pass through dozens of low-sec systems without seeing more than one person in there to do a little ninja-missioning or mining. Even in FW space, if you come into a system and there's a person or two there, they're probably running FW missions or sites and won't bother you.
The danger of low-sec is EVE's boogeyman, used to scare players that don't know much better. Sure there are systems that are exceptions -- Rancer and Tama and Amamake, for instance -- but they're the exceptions, not the rule.
That said, I don't want to be dismissive of this change. It's a major change to how a lot of players will operate in low-sec; I'll get to that in a second. Players recognize that it's a big change. And like any big sweeping change, this one's drawn more than its fair share of critics.(1) But it is rather amusing in that it's drawn critics from both sides of EVE's great ideological divide. How did it manage that?
Well, let's deal with the care-bears and the occasional non-PvP low-sec visitors first. You know who you are. This will change sentry guns so that interceptors and the like can get tackle on frigates passing through. The escalating damage from the sentries will drive off the most blatant low-sec smart-bombing battleships and the like. But the typical low-sec gate camp will not only not be banished, it will be improved by the arrival of these fast tacklers. Today, a good low-sec gate-camp only rarely sits on the gate itself. Instead, the ships doing the camping will sit just off-grid aligned toward the gate to avoid the sentries. A scout (often an alt) in high-sec will report the arrival of a high-value target at the gate and only then will the campers warp down to the gate itself. Adding an interceptor to this mix will only improve the likelihood that the camp will catch the target. And frigs entering or just passing through low-sec will no longer be any safer than any other type of ship.
So the occasional low-sec visitor is aggravated by this change. Say you want to take one of the new mining frigs or a fast Procurer into low-sec to do some ninja-mining. How do you do it against an organized camp? Hell, even null-sec players are a bit annoyed by it, because they occasionally have to move cyno ships and the like through low-sec. So, the care-bears and the occasional low-sec visitors hate this change.
But the PvPers, if this is possible, hate it even more.
Already today, gate fights are fairly rare things in low-sec if factional warfare or the like isn't involved. EVE players are risk averse by their nature, and neutrals do not want to give their opponents the gift of GCC if they aggress on gates. The additional DPS provided by allied sentries is bad enough, but the potential to have a two-way fight turn into a three-way (with the new arrival usually just attacking those that are flashy or GCC'ed) often prevents low-sec gate fights before they start. Now add the fact that the escalating damage off sentries will be blapping even ships that could previously tank the guns, and you have a recipe for the death of a lot of low-sec gate fights.
What you'll see instead are low-sec ganks and the occasional two- or three-minute fight, followed by a quick de-aggress if the fight even starts to go against you. And that assumes you can find a fleet willing to risk the fire from these escalating damage sentries at all. We'll see.
So the neutral roaming PvPers in low-sec are upset. But they're not the only ones.
It's tempting to think that this change is aimed at low-sec gate campers and indeed a lot of people think this change is specifically targeted at people who just get their jollies from this activity. Me, I'm not so sure. I think the true target is hidden in plain sight. Greyscale wants the damage to escalate to the point where triage carriers die in 4.5 minutes. That says to me the true target of this change isn't campers at all... it's hot-droppers. After all, that's the situation you usually use triage carriers in in a low-sec gate fight. One side or the other baits, a cyno is lit, and soon you have a small cluster of triage carriers and perhaps even dreadnoughts blapping the baited side.
The untold statement here seems to be "Yeah, you can have those triage carriers, but the people you're baiting get a minute or so of free fire or the chance to de-aggress before you can use them." Because if your carrier jumps in, enters triage, and reps your flagged bait battleship right away, the triage carrier draws a suspect flag itself and might not live to get out of triage. It's an entertaining notion. Even more entertaining, all the opposing fleet has to do to ensure that your triage carrier dies is make sure to get a point on him as he comes out of triage and keep it there. The opposing fleet doesn't even need enough DPS to kill a triage carrier... they just have to hold the carrier and let the sentry guns do the work.
It opens up a new -- and to the hot-droppers, extremely unwelcome -- strategy for winning fights in low sec.
And that doesn't even count what happens if you dare drop supers in range of sentries. If the sentries can kill a triage carrier in 4.5 minutes, how long to kill a Nyx or an Aeon? Like I said, the hot-droppers aren't happy at all.
So, we'll see where this change goes, or if it goes anywhere. Sayeth Greyscale:
This is a spitball idea that we shared with the CSM, not a final design.In the meantime, the thread's up to 21 pages so far.
(1) And I remain, as ever, in bewildered awe that it's a guy whose name is Greyscale that seems to always be the one making such black-and-white changes.