When We Last Left Our Heroes
In my last post the Gallente had recently overpowered their warzone after causing several major players within the Caldari State to abandon their faction. The hints of a Caldari pushback were in the air as Happy Endings and Ev0ke entered into the war with a chip on their shoulder, each having a reason to prove themselves. Meanwhile, the Amarr faction was at last coalescing into a fighting force and the powerhouses of the Minmatar had become complacent with their victory.
Where Are We Now
The image above shows the Warzone control for the last several weeks. The day Gallente hit full control marked a change in mentality throughout the warzone. On both sides, the underdogs have been pushing back at a steady rate and have been comparatively unopposed in their efforts. Gone were the armies that banded together to take Rakapas and Old Man Star. Gone were the plexing armies of the Minmatar to disrupt Amarrian advances. Since that day, Caldari and Amarr control of their warzones has steadily climbed. Last week we saw: Amarr overtake the warzone control from the Minmatar; Gallente hit Tier 2; and Minmatar hit Tier 1. A month ago, these events would have been laughable to predict, yet here we are.
So What Happened
In previous posts, I described the “doomsday scenario”; a state in which both allies of one side of the war would take control and support each other to ensure that the enemy could never gain a foothold. It would appear as if the perfect storm had been created for this to play out; and yet it didn’t. Why not?
EVE players will do anything to make the most ISK. Dominating the warzone would seem to be the best way to make it (top control offers the most LP, thus the best isk/hour after all). However, in practice a few things get in the way of this.
EVE players, like all humans, are lazy: Although many will go to great lengths, and push the limits to make a buck, the great masses want to make the most ISK for the least effort. As you approach high tier control, it becomes progressively more difficult to maintain it. It is worth noting that Gallente never got tier 5 control. In fact, they never even pushed for it. For the Gallente, tier 5 was a red herring, a distraction from their efforts. The problem with the system as it stands is that as long as you have any enemy presence at all, it consumes far more LP to maintain tier 5 then you receive from tier 5.
This problem is compounded by the vermin I described in my (now slightly prophetic) previous piece. The plex farmers and plex leechers benefit greatly from a higher tier, however that benefit is diminished if they actually pay into the system to maintain it. Instead they rely on a few workhorse groups within the militia to fight over, take, and pump LP into systems so that they can stay fat and happy. The people who benefit the most are those who provide the least for others. This causes a natural fracture point as those who fight for control are driven towards anger and apathy. In psychology they call this The Diffusion of Responsibility: in a system where anyone can contribute towards success, but no one is accounted for it, very few will step up and bear the weight of the many.
Victory is not rewarding: Much like the previous point, the rewards of success actually diminish as you get closer to “total” victory. More control means less systems to offensively plex. A more demoralized enemy fights less, causing boredom among the PVPers. The week surrounding total control was one of the worst weeks for Gallente PVP. There was simply nothing good to shoot at. Organizing, leading, and officiating fleets of general militia folks can be difficult and exhausting. While a common cause existed, forces banded together. However, with that objective accomplished, inter-unit cohesion shattered. Many of the top FCs for Gallente went back to leading closed fleets, choosing to fly with only friends rather than suffer the continual frustrations of having fleet-mates that were in no way accountable to them (and can you blame them?)
The rally of the loser’s banner: Turns out EVE is not always about being on top. It isn’t always good to be the king, but it is good to be plotting the assassination of the king. As demonstrated by last weekend’s mega brawl, give people an opportunity to strike at a big dog and make a name for themselves in this game, and people will jump to the chance. A reinvigorated Amarr has pushed against an apathetic Minmatar, and as soon as they demonstrated the slightest hope of success, many flocked to the banner to drive back their long term oppressors.
Overestimating allies' concern for each other: One of the principle tenets of the doomsday scenario is that both allies would work together to squash resistance. The original intent of constructing this idea was to show that while cross plexing existed, this scenario was inevitable. However, in practice we have found that the more two allies are winning, the less likely they are to support one another. The answer as to why is obvious, when you are exerting your maximum effort to maintain high control, you would expect help, rather than expect to give it. While both sides are winning, the problems mentioned below are occurring simultaneously to both sides, which lends to divide the two, rather than combine them. Cross plexing becomes exceptionally attractive while one side is winning and their ally is losing. In this event, the winning side would want to farm the more available plexes of their allies, while reaping the reward of their victory. When both are winning, there is no reason to go picking the bones at your friends house, when your bones are just as good (and help keep your own warzone up). Thus this proves that cross plexing is more of a driver to support losers, rather than winners, and continue the churning of the warzone.
CCP has designed a system that rewards and emboldens those who wish to drive to success, but then makes that success hollow and unsustainable. As those who are king become fat and lazy, the oppressed will gain support and plot their revenge. The doomsday scenario will never play out in a long term fashion simply based on the exhaustion it would provide. In the end, the warzone is healthiest when it is in flux; the last week has shown that it should remain in that state in varying degrees for quite some time. Obviously improvements to Faction Warfare could still be dreamt up, however overall it seems like the most recent changes to Faction Warfare have been quite successful.
For those of you who are in the Amarr militia, the trophy for “First Faction to get Tier 5 after Retribution” is still up for grabs. Go get it guys!