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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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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Well, that's about the same

So, I've had a good long while to think about this.  It's time to bring out Malcanis's Law: "Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of 'new players', that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players."  Jester's first Corollary to Malcanis's Law states "Any mechanics change to sovereignty will ultimately benefit larger alliances at the expense of smaller alliances."

As of today, there's going to be a second Corollary to Malcanis's Law, which will state "Any mechanics change that is proposed to reduce blobbing will ultimately reward blobbing."

Which brings us to this dev blog and this new module:
MagSheath Target Breaker I - Mid slot. A module that has a chance of breaking the lock of ships targeting you, the chance increases the more ships target you at one time. Also breaks your locks. Reduces scan resolution significantly as a downside. Only one can be fitted at a time and the can not be fitted to capital ships.

It's been interesting to watch people bowing and scraping in the direction of this module as an "anti-blobbing" module.  Corelin over at Mad Haberdashers, who is usually a pretty level-headed guy, practically writes a lyric poem in praise of the idea.

The problem is that it ain't gonna work, for a variety of reasons.  Let's start with the most basic ones and work up to the really esoteric ones.

First things first: we have no idea how common or rare these things are going to be.  Per the dev blog, we know that there are not going to be BPOs for this module.  It will be a BPC that drops from exploration sites, with between 3- and 50-run copies.  We can safely assume that initially, these mods are going to be extremely expensive.  Ironically, at first, you're going to see these things fitted to the ships that already stay as far away from blobs as possible.  Hulks, cloaky and non-cloaky transport ships, and cloaky T3s in low-sec will be the first beneficiaries of the Target Breaker module.  Later on, you'll see them fitted to solo PvP ships.  An overwhelmed triple-rep Myrmidon or the like will align to a station, fire off this mod... and if it works, warp away.

Unless the BPCs are pretty damn common, at no point can I see a situation where you're going to fit these things en masse to a large number of ships.  Know why?  Rumor has it that the mod also comes with a drawback of an 80% reduction in scan resolution.  That means things are going to take five times longer to lock.  Hulks, haulers, and cloaky T3s don't care about this, and full-on Bushido solo PvP boats care about it only slightly more.  But fit a mod to 30 fleet ships that reduces scan res that much?  No.

The next reason you're not going to see this in fleet fights is because it's chance-based.  Now, unless I've missed it, we haven't seen what the chance of this thing even working is going to be.  I'm sure that's one of the things that CCP will be balancing in the coming weeks and months.  CCP enjoys them their chance-based EWAR, but for the purposes of a mod whose sole reason to be fit is escape and evasion, it being chance-based is a little silly.  Again, Hulks, haulers, and cloaky T3s aren't going to care about this because a 25% or a 33% or a 50% chance of saving one's ship is better than a 0% chance.  There's no reason for them not to fit the thing.

For the purposes of the rest of this discussion, let's say the chance is 33%: if you fire this thing off, there's a 33% chance that you're going to lose your locks and everyone is going to lose their lock on you.

That brings us to the next problem with this module in a fleet fight.  In a fleet fight, the ability for friendlies to lock you is often key to your survival.  It's called a Logistics ship, and it's probably the only thing that allowed you to live long enough to press that Target Breaker function key in the first place.  Initially, we're going to have tons of people who use this module who are going to panic and forget the iron-clad rule of how to use this module: align first.  If you're not aligned when this thing goes off successfully, you're still gonna die.  It doesn't take that long to re-lock you.  ;-)

OK, let's get more esoteric.  Let's say for a moment that the 80% scan-res drawback were removed, and the module became as common as dirt.  Now can we fit them to the ships in a 30-man gang and use it to fight off a 100-man gang?  Nope, you still can't.  Hang on, because this is going to get a little complicated.

Let's say you've got a 30-man gang and you're fighting a 100-man gang.  Let's further say that all 130 ships have a Target Breaker mod fitted.  Obviously this works to the advantage of the 30-man gang, right?  Each of their primaries can align, and the moment they're red-boxed, they fire off the Target Breaker and there's a 33% chance that they get away clean.

While that's true, the problem is that it's going to work more to the advantage of the bigger gang.  Every time the 100-man gang calls a primary, they're going to have a 66% chance of blowing their primary up, reducing the 30-man gang's DPS by 1/30th of their fleet.  On the flip-side, every time the 30-man gang calls a primary, they're going to have a 66% chance of blowing their primary up, reducing the 100-man gang's DPS by 1/100th of their fleet.

Let's say it takes five seconds for both fleets to lock and destroy a primary.  It doesn't, of course: the 100-man gang is probably going to have a large DPS advantage.  But for the purposes of this discussion, let's say both sides destroy ships equally fast because things only get worse for the smaller gang if they don't.  Over the first 60 seconds, each fleet locks 12 targets.  Four of the targets on each side get away.  Eight of the targets on each side are destroyed.  The 30-man gang is now 18 ships, four of whom are warped off grid.  The 100-man gang is now 88 ships, four of whom are warped off grid.  The larger gang's 3.33:1 advantage has increased to 4.89:1 in the first minute.

In short, there's no difference between this situation and what we have today... other than a few more ships are going to escape destruction.

Someone explain to me how ships escaping destruction in a large fleet fight is a good thing.  ;-)

So, no.  As long as the Target Breaker mod is rare, it's going to be a rich man's toy for their expensive industrials of various types.  But if it becomes common enough to be used in fleet fights, it's going to be far more advantageous to blobs than it will be to groups trying to fight blobs.  Jester's Second Corollary to Malcanis's Law is in full effect here.

So let's hope that it stays rare and we get some other idea to address EVE's blob problem.


  1. I'll be honest, it never even crossed my mind as an anti-blob module. When I first heard of it I immediately thought of anti-gank. They shoot off one salvo, you use this, CONCORD destroys them, you continue on your marry way. I think you're spot on.

    Though it will be funny when people use it and break their logi lock.

  2. The math gets a little different if the mod's lockbreak chance is based on the number of targets who have you locked. For example, say if it's 1% per target (capped at, say, 80%) then after one minute the gang of 30 will only have lost two ships instead of eight, with ten ships in warp.

    Of course, fleets would just split their fire among more primaries. It'll be a race between the attackers and the logistics (who both have to retarget), and the attackers have a double advantage against armor fleets because armor reps land at the end of their cycle. There's an interesting little nerf there towards broadcasting for reps while being yellow boxed, as you might break all of your logi's locks too. And a double nerf if they were armor logis as you just disrupted the reps they had in progress.

    Overall, the advantage will tip increasingly towards smaller gangs of powerful ships, and further towards shields instead of armor. Good work on making Tengu gangs more dominant!

  3. You really should do better research. From the devblog that introduced the module: "A module that has a chance of breaking the lock of ships targeting you, the chance increases the more ships target you at one time." The chance of the smaller gang to get their people out and back to the fight is higher than the big gangs chances.

    Additionally the scan resolution penalty has been reduced to 50% (source: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1308372#post1308372)

  4. the way i read the description the 30 man fleet and 100 man fleet dont have the same chance of the unlock working.

    lets assume a linear probability from 1 to 200 locks. with 0% chance if only one ship locks you and 100% chance of breaking all locks if 200 players target you.

    so in your 30 vs 100 example the 30 man fleet has a 50% chance of breaking locks but the 100 man fleet only has 15% chance of breaking lock.

  5. A solid article until you get to the eccentric bit because the chance that the module breaks all locks increases with the number of people who have you locked. I'm not saying that the point of the article doesn't make sense but just that the eccentric part you presented isn't as clear cut as that.

  6. I might have slept when I read this but my impression was that the chance would be dependent on the number of people targeting you.

    So 100 man fleet all target you -> almost guaranteed target break.

    Wouldn't that change things up quite a bit?

  7. As of last I was on sisi, the Lock Breakers could only be fitted to Battleship hulls (including T2).
    There are a couple of situations where this module could really give you an advantage though:
    Battleships fighting a large force of capitals - or other ships with (very) slow lock times.

    Slow lock times caused by scanres scripted sensor dampeners perhaps?

  8. I see no mention here of the "more ships locked onto you, the higher the rate of success" facet of the mod. Was that just a rumor?

  9. "...the chance increases the more ships target you at one time.." thats is the anti blobish part not beak all locks at same time even if the module became rare this will make critical ships last longer as both side of the fight would lock them one for protection(increasing the chance of lock break) and other for primary

  10. Hmm. Yes.
    It is an interesting module and as is often the case the devil is in the details. Is it on SiSi yet, or is the mechanism otherwise confirmed?
    The behaviour would be quite different if it were passive, active point effect "burst" or active continuous like an ECCM.

    I agree that it is not much use defensively if it also breaks friendly locks and if it keeps a large scan res penalty. If you look at it from the point of view of buying time, the 5 or 10 seconds for the FC to call a new primary or for people to notice they have lost lock and re-lock then it will help against a blob. But not so much if your own fleet targets 5 times slower.

    It will take a while of real use and probably some tweaking by CCP before we see what, if any, effect it will have on large vs small fleet engagements.


  11. You do know that the chance to break locks is NOT constant. It scales with the number of people targeting you. If you are targeted by only 3 or 4 people, the chance of breaking the locks is very small. If you are targeted by 10, you have a decent/good chance of breaking their locks. If targeted by 30 people, you are nearly guaranteed to succeed in breaking their locks.

  12. This module no longer exists on sisi. It has been replaced by this: http://i.imgur.com/ZHgWs.jpg

  13. Your math seems to be ignoring one of the sentences you quoted at the top: the chance increases the more targets are locking you. So each time your 30-man primary hits the button, their chance is based on 100 hostile locks, while each 100-man primary gets a chance based on only 30 hostile locks. Assuming that chance scaling is non-linear in a sensible way, won't that turn the tide of your math and make it come out ahead for the smaller group?

  14. I disagree. If the 30 man gang kills just as fast as a 100, they lose with or without the module.

    To evaluate the module, you must assume that the 30 man gang is "elite" and blobbed by an alliance who recruit anyone who is ready to join and without the module the two sides have equal chances to win. This means that the 30 man gang had much more valuable ships and better pilots.

    Which side will use the modul better (with align and such)? Which side saves more ISK by saving a ship? Which side is less likely to panic and use it when simple overheating resistors would be enough?

  15. You're forgeting that the lock break becomes more likely the more ships targeting you so that ship in the 30 man gang might have double/triple the chances of the ship in the 100. I however agree its going to not really work as intended. For solo ships even non combat like hulks we don't know the chance yet but i bet the chance is so low for just the few ships that are likely targeting you it won't be worth the mid slot. I think you'll see it on haulers to break lowsec gate camps

  16. How is "no difference between this situation and what we have today" "ultimately reward[ing] blobbing"?

  17. My only point is that if you go by what the module description is then your example is a little wrong, not knowing the calculation that gives the chance base, but it says it accounts for the number of ships locking you, so in you example the 30 man gang firing at the 100 man gang may only have a 20-25% chance of losing their locks while the 100 man gang firing at the 30 man gang might have 35-40% chance, the whole key to the module is how drastic the change in the chance for everyone to lose a lock on the primary is with the higher amount of locks

  18. I think your logic is flawed.
    You did your calculations without keeping in consideration this little detail " the chance increases the more ships target you at one time".

    We dont know what the chances will be and we especially dont know how they will "scale".

  19. I'm not sure this module will be all that useful on PvE ships. Its chance to break lock will depend on the number of ships locking a target. Industrials and PvE ships tend to be ganked by small gangs; multi-ship freighter ganks won't be affected since freighters cannot fit modules. I suspect that an ECM Burst or a flight of ECM drones would be more effective.

  20. you seem to have missed a bit about this module jester, the MORE people locking you the great chance of lock break. so depending on scaling you could have between 8-12 ships of the small gang escaping vs the 4 of the large gang, maybe more.

  21. Correct me if I'm missing something, but aren't you forgetting to take into account the clause about 'the chance increases the more ships target you at one time' in your example? Obviously, yes, if it's a flat chance of 33% on both sides, the bigger blob profits. But if it's 33% for the big blob and 55% for the smaller one, it starts looking a lot more worthwhile.

    I do think you're right that this is not designed for fleet fights, not with the scan res penalty like that, and certainly not with the drawback of also breaking Logi locks. But I certainly wouldn't call it a buff to blobs, unless CCP badly screws up the percentage increase with the number of concurrent locks.

  22. Jester, you forgot this part "the chance increases the more ships target you at one time".

    Assumptions are assumptions of course, but I expect the chance to be more like f(x)=x/(x+100)

    That means if 30 ships lock on you the module works 3:13 times, but if 100 ships lock on you it works 1:2 times.

    There are even more extreme f(x) of course. If f(x)=x/(x+(1000/x)), then:
    30 ships locking -> 30:33
    100 ships locking -> 100:101

    Also, if the probability function is anything like this, then putting it on as industrial won't do much good, because the chance will be around 1% or 2%.

  23. 80% res nerf is fo rillz, therefore making it useless in actual nullsec blob-fare.

    As I pointed out to Core and Stan both -- it's not an ECM Burst: it just breaks locks, it doesn't prevent someone from immediately re-locking you.

    I do look forward to chortling over the Maka-raeg! when someone mounts this on a ship in 1 of his fleets and gets killed despite having it (it'll happen, trust me), and he sees the lossmail on the KBs.

    I suspect this thing will go the way of the warp core stab -- a semi-useful tool for nullbears that will save a ship in limited circumstances (most likely in EC- or HED- where there's always 50B ships on the hisec gate), but that small 3-man dictor + DPS camp is still gonna get their kill, no problem.

    Yay CCP, yet another :coolidea: that does jack shit to solve the "actual problem".

    Then again, it's nullsec. Wasn't the whole idea of nullsec to BE blobby with big fleet battles, supercaps, etc?
    "We want big, huge, EPIC fleet battles CCP!!"
    "For our players, we will do this."
    :blobarity ensues:
    "Um, CCP? Yeah, can we do a little LESS big, huge, and epic pls?"
    "Man, can you players make up your minds plox?"

  24. Well, good luck on trying to get CCP SoniClover to listen, or fix the actual problem.

    His latest blogs regarding both the wardec and ally systems show that he pretty much ignored 50+ pages of forum feedback to his earlier blog regarding the same proposed mechanics.

    This guy is a total fail.

    After Inferno goes down in flames, I hope he is one of the first ones to get laid off.

  25. I thought about this..... I concur with you as usual Jester.

    Something else that came to mind, simply being aligned isn't going to help you in a lot of cases either (particularly in anti-gank protection) Where slow industrial ships are fitting them to evade ganking....

    To describe, I shall do a brief scenario.

    You are in an Occator, You've shield tanked it to make it not totally paper thin, You have a warp strength of +2 and you have your lows fit for maximum haul... You have your lockbreaker, just encase anything goes wrong...

    You jump into 2 jumps out from a well know hi-sec trade hub, you notice you were passive scanned a jump before, as you aren't dumb enough to be on auto pilot afk, and you saw the effect ping your ship, you feel something is up, sure enough, 2 AC tornado's are on grid when it loads, not enough to Alpha you, but they certainly would kill you before Concord shows up in this 0.5 system, so you click warp to and immediately strengthen your ship with invuln as soon as you begin decloaking.

    You see a yellow box, but not from the Tornado's, confused, you don't click the pulse button, although the urge to do so is overwhelming, you comfort yourself knowing that a large number of gankies may have panicked and pushed the button at this point effectively having a premature moment, but no your "Pro". The Yellow box is from a lowly blackbird... You smile knowing that he has no chance of killing you solo, but are still nervous about the Tornado's, you've just gone over 1/2 speed.

    The Tornado's finally do lock you up, but you notice some strange effects forming around your ship, and the blackbird has gone red on you, you press the button and prey, hoping to get the jam, knowing you now have just a slim chance of survival....

    The jam comes off, you smile knowing the relock will take them longer than the few seconds left to get into warp, by which time concord will be on grid anyway sending them to meet their maker.

    Holly, why am I at 1/4 speed? Did I hit something aligning?

    No what happened is, the blackbird put 3 points and 2 webs on you.

    Not having a timer to relock, the Tornado's with dual sebo's relock you and kill you anyway, and while sitting in your pod looking at Concord killing the 3 aggressors and your wreck with 3 bill of loot drops you ask yourself, what the hell was the point of this module again?

  26. "Any mechanics change that is proposed to reduce blobbing will ultimately reward blobbing."

    Call me delusional, but I think there is something that would weaken the blob more than the small gang. Four things would need to be implemented at once:
    - line-of-sight damage for turrets
    - missile path collision
    - damage from ship explosions
    - fleet formations

    The bigger the blob, the harder for the FC to keep it from hurting itself instead of the reds. A small gang could maneuver around a blob to take advantage of hostile fire and/or target the ships that would damage the most the surrounding ones.

    Do I want to see this implemented? Not without knowing what would be done to prevent this from being exploited. There is also a concern about how much this would weight on the server, but none of these is harder than determining ship collisions and Veritas already stated that the physics simulation only takes a small part of the server tick.


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