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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Strategic Mobility in EVE

Having recently made use of Jump Bridges to move some combat assets to my new home in R.H.I, I've been given a nice lesson in how they work.  What follows are my thoughts to their impact on null sec politics and the discussions that are happening withing CCP and with the CSM.

What are jump bridges?  Basically they are like player owned and operated stargates.  The thing is that they have a rather significant range compared to the normal stargate network (what you see when you peruse Dotlan).  This allows an alliance to setup "shortcuts" around their controlled systems.  Which is useful but not in and of itself game breaking.

Now as has been noted by CCP they consider the current strategic mobility of forces around null sec to be an issue since it lends itself to "supper blobs".  It allows the sky marshals of EVE to concentrate forces in a rather easy and convenient fashion.  The main reason for this is that allied forces can use each others networks if they set up their standings correctly.  This means that a sub-capital force can zip from one end of EVE to another so long as they have allies along the way.  Something that would normally take 50 to 70 jumps can take less than 10.

I suspect that jump bridges were originally designed to facilitate internal defenses of a territory.  The use that we the players have been putting them to seem to be having the usual law of unintended consequences.  Now I note that CCP is considering design changes to limit strategic mobility.  They've even requested that the removal of jump bridges entire remain on the table and the CSM agreed.

Now the individual pilot will be horrified by the removal of what they, rightfully, see as a major convenience.  Strategically however it would make things tougher to coordinate long distance operations.  Which is what CCP wants.  One way they could do this without destroying the existing infrastructure outright would be to simply not allow jump bridge usage outside an alliance.  This would allow for rapid deployment of forces withing ones own territory to respond to a threat without leading to the strategic mobility for entire power-blocks that we now see in null sec warfare.

Now admittedly, this is crystal ball gazing.  CCP will do what CCP will do, and the CSM will provide feed back on their plans.  I suspect that the long term effect of this would not be the balkanization of null sec CCP seems to want.  For that you would really need to kill the jump bridges entirely.

That takes care of the strategic mobility of regular forces, what about the capitals?  Well they depend on cyno beacons and cyno ships.  I don't know if the beacons have the same issues as jump bridges or not (usable by allies) but if they do, the same thing would probably need to be done to them.  Either way, logged out and then cloaked cyno ships represent the pre-planned emplacement of future mobility.  The day when we can hunt down cloaked ships is the day when we can realistically limit strategic mobility of capitals.  Until then, not really.  We need some form of not necessarily accurate detection - i.e. long range detection only accurate enough to land you within 150-250km followed by some form range pinging and of depth charging (hey look ma, something a destroyer or destroyer derived T2 hull could be tasked to do as a specialist ship).  Some mechanism like this would remove the strategic effect of cloaked cyno ships without necessarily removing their tactical usefulness.

That's my 2isk on the issue.

1 comment:

Toldain said...

The parallels to the mundane Terra we all know are fascinating. Nullsec has evolved what seems to me a feudal system, based on extractive industry.

Which makes it easy to see The Mittani as Francisco Pizarro, subjugating vast lands with a small group of hardcores with superior technology. I take nothing away from the Goons, by the way, they are very good at what they do.