Friday, September 2, 2011

A Little Perspective: A Closer Look at the Militia

So, I’ve been pretty hard on the Amarr the last few days. There has been a lot of in-game drama over hot drops, neutral bat-phoning, and Gallente militia involvement in Minmatar/Amarr territory. Not to mention some in-fighting in the Minmatar militia, local smack and trolling, amongst other things.

Something that a lot of outsiders do not understand, and something I feel I need to explain, is that the ‘militia’ is not like your ordinary alliance. You don’t have a singular leader of a chosen group of corporations working toward a common goal.

Joining a militia only requires standings, and different corporations join for different reasons. Some join to take part in roleplay. Others take part as a means to get ‘free wardecs.’ Others take advantage of the isk-making opportunities of faction missions.  For many, it is a combination of things.

However, with this being said, the actions of one individual, or one corporation within the militia can have a huge impact that is often incorrectly attributed to the militia as a whole.

For example, when a capital pilot chooses to drop his carrier multiple times on small, sub battleship fleets, the militia in which this occurs, or to whom the pilot is associated with can gain a bad rep for bringing guns to a fist fight. Even though these are the actions of a standalone pilot or corporation.

Often times, the actions of one person, corporation, or entity, causes the opposing ‘team’ to retaliate. However, instead of retaliating on the person, corporation, or entity, they lash out at the entirety of the militia. This, in turn, causes drama on both sides.

After this point, retaliation on either side can quickly become out of control.
So, while you read commentaries on fights, smack, and back and forth in the coming days, please keep a couple things in mind:

1. Individuals and corporations cannot control the actions of other individuals and corporations. There is no way to enforce it—we can’t kick people out, after all. So, when the Amarr cry that we are dropping capitals on their battlecruiser fleets, there’s not much that we can do about it. We can’t tell the instigating party how to play the game.

Also, when we cry that the Amarr blobbing us with neutrals, most of them can’t do much about it either. Neutrals do what they want, and usually its one individual doing the batphoning. Most just get swept along with who ever happens to be loud enough to be in charge at the moment.

In this way, militia is like a huge stalemate where all parties continue to fight for the heck of it. (I blame CCP.)

2. There are four militias. The Amarr and Caldari have permanent wardecs against the Minmatar and Gallente. There is apt to be inter-militia involvement, with the Amarr ganging up with the Caldari, and the Minmatar ganging up with the Gallente.

Either side has equal opportunity to gang up together, move into each other’s regions, etc. (As I said in the previous point, we can’t control each other.)

So, when the Amarr are frusterated (and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be) when a large portion of the Gallente militia move into Amarr/Minmatar space, they’re essentially complaining about a set game mechanic that none of us can change.

If the roles were reversed, there would probably be just as many in Minmatar militia that would complain and wine if the Caldari moved in. (My corp would probably jump for joy at having more targets to kill.) In the one can really do anything about it on either side.

3. Militia size and time zones are not really in the control of militia members. It tends to balance itself naturally, but only after periods of imbalance.

For example, say a couple large corporations choose to join Amarr militia. At that point, Amarr could extremely outnumber Minmatar during certain time zones. The natural tendency is that people who were previously AFK in Minmatar would ‘wake up’ due to the increase in pvp, and that corporations would recruit their friends to come help. On the other side, some on the Amarr side might skim off due to lack of enough fights and targets to shoot.

Eventually, things start to approach equilibrium again.

This being said, either side can complain all they want about being outnumbered, not having enough  (or having too many) to fight in a specific time zone, etc. In the end, there’s nothing anyone can do about it but recruit for their own corporation and look at periods of imbalance as a challenge—whether this means learning to fight outnumbered, or learning to roam into places where targets can be found.

4. It’s not just ‘us’ against ‘them.’ From the outside looking in, it looks like it’s the Amarr against the Minmatar. This is somewhat skewed. With occasional in-fighting and inter militia wardeccing, it’s often ‘us’ against ‘us’ against ‘them.’

Most of the time, the pvp aspects are only played by a certain fraction of the militia. So it’s really only ever ‘some of us’ against ‘some of them.’

Also you have situations where some corporations help their ‘sister’ militia. So it might be some of the Minmatar and some of the Gallente against some of the Amarr and some of the Caldari, or unbalanced in one direction or the other.

Also, every militia has friendly neutrals. Sometimes corporations or entire alliances gain standings with a few other corporations in one militia. So, sometimes it’s ‘us’ and some others against ‘them’ and others.
So, instead of being ‘us’ against ‘them’ it’s usually ‘some of us’ with some gallente and a few others and some alts against some of ‘them’ and their alts and their bat-phone and their Caldari friends’s second cousins.
Then throw in that some of ‘us’ are fighting ‘us’ and some of ‘them’ are fighting ‘them.’

You follow all that? It gets better.

Sometimes. On Rare Occasions. ‘Us’ and ‘them’ get together to kill the others. The others are usually neutral pirates that dare interrupt our little drama-bubbled region.

Yeah. You’re starting to get the picture. Needless to say, that militia politics are highly complex. Perhaps more complex then null sec alliance politics, where you generally have one conglomerate against another conglomerate.

So, where does that all leave us?
In a lot of posts I’ve seen on sov wars, Shalee asks people what they would change in militia. One of the recurring answers I’ve seen is to make taking systems worthwhile. To expand upon this, I think that giving militia a more quantifiable means to concretely unite as a militia would greatly improve the game mechanics.

Though it will not fix all the problems I mentioned above (most of them are logistical issues that can’t really be fixed by CCP) I think it would go a long way toward making it easier to achieve equilibrium and take faction war out of the realm of just being a glorified wardeccing game mechanic.
(And give us all more to do then creating drama about things no one can fix.)

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