Monday, January 9, 2012

Alliances in Faction War

A few days ago, CCP announced that they will be making a major change to faction war--allowing alliance to join.  The response has been varied, from some expressing their approval of the change, to others threatening to leave Faction War or even unsub if the change goes through.

My initial response was that allowing alliances to join would ruin Faction War. I envisioned large, blobbing alliance fleets roaming our space, pushing out the small corporation gangs and solo pvpers. I envisioned super capitals camping gates, and huge capital fleets pouncing on anyone that dared setup a POCO or a POS.  (*Wait a second...where have I heard that scenario before?)

After letting it sink in for a few days, I still have some deep concerns about this change However, I think there are some things we need to take into account before completely dismissing it as the 'wrong' move.

Will allowing alliances into FW ruin FW, or only ruin what FW has currently become to us? 

Once upon a time, there were 100+ man fleets in faction war, battling it out over plexes. Or, so I've been told. Since I joined, it's been largely a community of small-gangers and solo pvpers. It seems that people gave up actually hard core fighting over plexes, and only uses plexes nowadays to get small-gang fights or a quick legup on their standings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm mostly a small-ganger and solo pvper myself, and I have concerns that the influx of new people could greatly change things in this regard. However, I wonder if we aren't already living in a house of cards--threatened to be tipped over by any possible change that CCP makes to FW.

If changes were made to make plexing more worthwhile, we may see large corporations joining, and more 100+ man fleets from days goneby. This, a change that people constantly seem to be asking and pressuring CCP for, could essentially have the same, or similar effect to small-gangs in FW.

We need to ask ourselves: in order to have all the other changes we propose, and in order to truly 'fix' FW, will we be able to hold onto our notions that FW is a game mechanic that does (and should) protect and cater only to small-gang pvp?

Will it really be as 'null-sec blobby' as everyone says?

First, in order for an alliance to join FW, every corporation in the alliance will need a .5 faction standing. For those who don't understand standings mechanics, your corp Faction standing is based off the average Faction standing of each individual. I think this restriction alone will greatly reduce who will even join at all because:

  1. The chances that a huge alliance having those average standings in every corporation right now are pretty slim.
  2. The chances that a huge alliance would want to join badly enough to move to empire and mission to achieve these standings is pretty slim.
  3. The chances that any huge alliance will kick out a valued corporation due to not having standings for faction war are pretty slim.

In addition to standings, I believe that other things will influence how blobby the warfront gets. For starters, you need a lot of cooperation and organization to get together large gangs. A lot of alliances joining may keep to themselves for security and/or snobbery reasons. So, you may still have small-gangs, just higher quantities of them.

Also, it takes a lot to move an entire alliance. I think some alliances will join, but will not live in the warfront as current small-gang pvpers do. So, we may see some roving gangins go through from empire, but we're not going to see 100 people living in Huola or Auga.

So, I guess the bottom line of what I'm saying here is that 'maybe' it will get blobbier, but I'm skeptical as if this will completely whipe out/prevent small-gangers and solo pvpers from going about their business.

Is a major overhaul of FW as opposed to smaller, incremental changes, really what we want?

We kind of have an interesting contradiction of sentiments where this is concerned. On the one hand, people are saying that Faction War is so broken, CCP should focus on fixing it before introducing this kind of change. On the other hand, people are claiming that alliances in faction war will break FW. So, essentially, people are worried that this new feature will break something that they already feel is broken.

Also, there are many ideas out there as to how to fix faction war and people rarely agree on them. Just looking at the opposite responses (and the number of responses and analysis) generated by this one smaller change! And you expect CCP to live through a complete overhaul? What are you smoking?

A major overhaul of FW will be a nightmare for someone, somewhere. Let's be greatful CCP is taking it slow, and be careful of what we wish for.

Are there other side affects that alliances in FW will cause?

There are probably many things we aren't even considering. Last night, a friend in Minnie militia said he was worried in the influx of people would mean more missions, which would essentially crash the LP market.

On the one hand, this is disturbing for current FW missiones. On the other, people have been saying for a while now that FW missions being so easy to 'farm' is a key problem in FW.

Another said that he was worried that some big self-important alliance would come in and start telling people what to do and trying to 'take over' a militia. On the one hand, this would be really annoying to those of us who like to fly loosely organized small-gangs with fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitudes. However, for those who prefer more organized, led pvp, this might be a blessing. In the end, we're not going to be forced to listen or work with anyone that ends up joining.

I have the feeling that an influx of people, especially within such a cohesive unit as an alliance is going to cause more inter-militia drama. I predict that we will see an increase throughout the whole scale--from general hostilities to more inter-militia wardecs.

The Bottom Line -------------------

The bottom line is that this change will negatively affect some and positively affect others. This is why there are people with opinions about it on both ends of the emo scale. Just read a forum post about proposed changes and you will see the same thing--with people having very adament, differing opinions about the smallest of things.

When they go to change plexes, and missions, and other mechanics, I fully expect a similar uproar by one side or the other.

However, I believe that threatening to un-sub over it is a bit premature, claiming that it will 'ruin FW' is a little over dramatic (which I know I was myself) and claiming that it's a wonderful change that will help improve FW without a little hurting along the way is naive.

In the end, FW is going to change. We've whined about it too long for CCP to continue ignoring it. And, inevitably, someone is going to get the short end of the stick.


  1. Finally, a thoughtful analysis on what these changes may bring, very closely reflecting my own thoughts, Susan.

    I see one additional upside--some corps that already practically function as an alliance may form into a real FW alliance--I can see KA POW, HUANG, IFW, FUGs and some other corps forming our own alliance. It would certainly help clear up some issues and let us all war dec together as well.

  2. I agree you won't see large standing alliances crashing the FW party. I think Kuan hits it on the head. You'll likely see existing FW population reorganize, with some corporations that are predisposed to cooperative action leveraging the alliance mechanics which is much more efficient when it comes to coordination of effort.

    As to blobs and large fleet fights, there's no reason they can't happen today. Fleet fights were occurring when I was last in FW and the fact that they're not today suggests that it went out of vogue in favor of small fleet PvP.

  3. Well considered arguments and excellent thoughts. While I don't pretend to know much about FW, it being on of the few things I haven't tried, I remain optimistic regarding the outcome of this possible change. Mostly for the reasons you give here. I suspect that this might very well amount to a no-change change in the end. But we'll see.

  4. Both CVA and Ushra-Khan used to (possibly still do) require high corp/personal standings to their respective factions. However, they have both been involved in faction warfare since the beginning, so it is unlikely that letting them in on an alliance level would impact faction warfare much. There aren't any other alliances of note that would be able to join, or would have the interest to join for that matter.

  5. A few comments:
    - An alliance needs funds not only for itself but also for its members to buy new ships and replace losses. While FW missions *are* lucrative, I believe that there's a point of market saturation where it will become more profitable to run Incursions or high sec L4s. That point isn't terribly far out in terms of total mission runners.
    - The ability for an alliance to escalate to capitals requires that the alliance members as a whole have the funds to do so.
    - I don't think that there's enough raw ISK in FW for any doomsday scenarios to materialize that wouldn't materialize simply because alliances are now allowed to join the FW. I'm willing to bet that most FW alliances are going to be created by people from the FW itself - though there will obviously be the CVA/Electus Matari roleplay alliances that join. This should notably be good for their membership. :)
    - High supercapital availability implies we're highly unlikely to see capitals camping the gate.

    Basically: IMO a change this small isn't going to change much besides bringing -EM- et al into FW proper, while consolidating long time friendly corps into real alliances.



  6. It could be good - the informal alliance in the Gallente, the MDP, turned the war around in 99. Also we are in desperate need of moar targets. The 100 man fleets back in the day were epic.

    It could be bad - We saw what a PITA a bored PL were when they moved to Amamake and started dropping Titans on Drakes!

    Good write up and a case of we'll see......