The pre-Phoebe galactic reshuffle is on!
As mentioned in my last CEO Update, it's been a weird month for yours truly. Normally when CCP makes development plans public I'm delighted to comment on them - but Phoebe is a different animal, and it's safe to say that the predictions of the loudest commentators on the impact of this update are some of the most impressively deluded I've seen in years. That could have been good fodder for TMC and my mailbox, but instead we went dark, shut the hell up, and let the echo chamber ring. But now the major null players have made their moves and it's reasonable to comment. So:
Nullsec at this moment is a game of musical chairs, and the music is about to stop.
The primary bloc forces have already found comfortable chairs to recline in, with the CFC, NCdot, XIX, PL and Darkness all rehoming or redrawing their borders in the past two weeks, with vast sums of isk being transferred between nominally hostile entities and regions traded like glorified Pokemon without a shot fired. Pandemic Legion has sold three of its drone holdings to Legion of Death, flipping Cobalt Edge, Oasa, and Outer Passage. The CFC likewise ceded and subsequently sold Querious, Delve, and Period Basis to NCdot and Darkness. That's six regions bloodlessly trading hands within one week, with an obvious future power vacuum opening in Feythabolis and every single system of Northern Associates sov beyond the projection range of Querious the moment the patch goes live.
Now, this could be because these blocs are filled with cowards, or everyone is colluding in a hypothetical blue donut - or because the vast brain trusts behind these organizations saw the writing on the wall before everyone else and aggressively adapted, leaving the less gifted and aggressive in the dust. If you're in one of those alliances without a comfy chair, you're probably going to assume the former explanation because it's more comforting than the reality.
Now there are no chairs left in the galactic West or Northeast, which means that everyone not yet settled has to fight for a spot between Insmother and Paragon Soul - we'll call it the southeast, but it will soon resemble the Middle East. Why?
- Daddy's Gone and/or Hates You: The linchpin of the N3/Northern Associates security in the southeast was the Apex Force of Pandemic Legion and NCdot working together to fight off the RUS. With NCdot putting down roots in Querious and Pandemic Legion resetting N3 and beginning to hunt them for sport, alliances like Nulli Secunda, Kadeshi, Gentlemen's Club and The Unthinkables find themselves standing alone for the first time in their history. NCdot may be able to attempt to save some NA territory near Esoteria and Paragon Soul, but the cap changes with the Sov EHP nerf makes that dodgy.
- Return of the SE RUS: Knowing that PL and NCdot will no longer be propping up N3, a number of Russian alliances have become active again in anticipation of Phoebe. Many of the core leadership of the old RUS bloc went inactive in the face of the NCdot/PL Apex Force and just walked away from the game, yet now 'names' like Nync, Psihozz, Ghost Storm, Zumzat and Unionn have returned.
- Vast Swaths of Renter Sov: Repairing sov structures is easy when you can teleport a carrier fleet on top of it, which is why the East and West were both full of renter sov until now. With NCdot and PL not defending Northern Associates territory and the Phoebe nerfs to force projection, it will be up to the N3 stay-behinds to keep up with a stream of sov timers. With sov structure EHP being nerfed significantly, even a handful of capitals can knock a station into reinforced unless dealt with - even subcapitals will be able to grind undefended sov rapidly.
- Capitals Stuck At Home: Sov alliances in Eve have enjoyed being able to deploy abroad at will and scoot home for defense in an eyeblink for years. Old habits die hard, and I suspect we'll see several alliance not 'get it' yet and move their caps away from where they live. The consequences of that kind of deployment will be catastrophic should someone immediately begin setting the vacated home on fire. Once the lesson is learned, however, the geography of the Southeast becomes a nightmare. Imagine that your gameplay post-Phoebe means huddling for warmth in the cold wastelands of Feythabolis or Tenerifis, unable to deploy to seek out something more entertaining for fear of losing everything. Yikes.
That's bad news for the folks without a chair - and the rest of us can't wait for the music to stop and the slaughter to begin.
Bonus Espionage Nerd Postscript
If you haven't watched A Most Wanted Man yet you are wrong: fix it.