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, January 14, 2011

Cheap and easy logistics

I'm in the midst of a long, and often-repeating-itself discussion on Scrapheap Challenge about EVE logistics in general and Jump Bridges in particular.  As far as I'm concerned, the topic is also strongly linked to the proliferation of supercaps in the game, super carriers especially.

I've been involved in at least three threads on this topic so far:

There are arguments on SHC that Jump Bridges should either be heavily nerfed or removed from the game completely.  Apparently, this was a topic of brief discussion at the CSM December Summit as well; the talking points should be in part three of the minutes, which Teadaze says will be released tomorrow (Monday seems more likely).

CCP says -- and I completely agree with this, by the way -- that 0.0 logistics in the game are too easy and they never intended Jump Bridges to proliferate the way that they have.  A glance at the Northern Coalition JB map bears this out.  There are many stretches of NC space where JBs link systems with only one or two stargates between them.  There are many more where you can cross entire regions using only three or four jumps.  I'm sure the JB maps for other parts of the galaxy are just as extensive.

That said, JBs are only infrequently used for logistics, in my experience.  I've been in two alliances with JB networks now and while you'll occasionally see freighters moving through them, most of the time, those freighters are carrying infrastructure upgrades that can't be carried any other way.  Alternately, you'll occasionally see a freighter plying a long string of a JB chain, but most often this is either someone moving into, or out of, a new 0.0 alliance.  Not a common occurrence, in other words.  Again -- in my experience -- most 0.0 logistics is done with jump freighters and carriers.  The JFs and carriers will only get on the bridges for that last jump, to their home system.  These days, nearly every 0.0 alliance cyno-jams their home station system.  The JFs and carriers have no other way of performing that final jump, except through the bridge.  People in other 0.0 alliances with JBs tell me that their networks are used much the same way.

And yet, a goodly number SHC posters gleefully agree with the idea of smiting the JBs, visions of easy freighter ganks in their eyes.  They've got this idea that without the JBs, suddenly there are going to be freighter escort ops all over 0.0.  Logical evidence to the contrary usually works (this is a major difference between SHC and the EVE-O forums).  You point out that 0.0 logistics aren't going to change.  You then point out some of the unintended consequences of smiting the JBs.  The thread quickly goes silent.  But then a few weeks go by and someone starts a new thread about it without reading the old ones.

So in my view, 0.0 logistics is not happening over the JB network.  Someone should tell me if I'm wrong about this, but I don't think I am.

No, part of what the JBs get used for is moving gank fleets around your home space quickly.  And there's definitely a problem there.  You can't roam in NC space without a counter-roam fleet being gathered, put on the JB chain, and put on a gate in front of you, ready to blob you out of existence.  And if you retreat the other way, the counter-fleet just rides the JB backwards along your trail to get in front of you again.  That's not cool.

On the flip-side, the JBs are also used to get fleets out of deep 0.0 quickly and into the more PvP-friendly parts of 0.0.  This is very cool.  It makes every part of 0.0 viable as a place to live and yet get some fun PvP from.  I don't hear about a lot of roaming fleets in Tenal, Period Basis, or Cobalt Edge.  No, your small gang fights happen in places like Provi, Pure Blind, Great Wildlands, and Syndicate.  In my experience, a PvP gang will fly no more than 15-20 jumps before you better give them some PvP.  That means, wherever you live in EVE, you'd better be able to get to one of those PvP-friendly areas in 15 jumps or less.  If you're, say, Intrepid Crossing living in Cobalt Edge, the only way to get small gang PvP in 15 jumps or less is Jump Bridges.  Take out the JBs, and you make these areas of deep 0.0 non-viable as a place to live.

The problem, though, is that supercaps are proliferating like mad and are threatening small gang PvP in EVE.  Part of this can be tied right back to 0.0 logistics.  It takes a ton of minerals to make a Nyx.  But 0.0 logistics is so cheap right now that to make a Nyx, you just get your minerals in Empire, compress them by manufacturing them into 425mm Railgun Is, move the railguns to 0.0 via Jump Freighter, reprocess them back into minerals, and then build your Nyx.  Hell, I've heard that some alliances are skipping a few steps and just building carriers in low-sec, jumping the carriers into 0.0, then reprocessing the carriers back into capital parts, and starting the build that way.  If that doesn't demonstrate that 0.0 logistics is too cheap, nothing does.

(I'll have more to say about mineral compression in a later post, because I have pretty strong opinions about it, and how to fix it.)

So, when you try to take a small PvP gang into a PvP-friendly area, then find and tackle an Arazu, the thing lights a cyno and 30 super carriers land on your face.  Not cool.  It not only makes small gang PvP not-fun, it directly hurts EVE's ability to encourage lesser-skilled players to try this PvP thing.  Super carriers have even made their way into Faction Warfare, which scares me to death.  FW used to be a haven for frigate/destroyer/cruiser gangs.  Now they have 15 billion super caps.  How's a brand new PvP'er supposed to deal with that?

So yeah, I agree: there's two major problems here: JBs are proliferating far too much.  And JF, carrier, and super carrier jumps are far too cheap and easy.

How to fix it?  I have some ideas.  But this post is too long already, so I'll save that for my next post.

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