Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nullibros and the great tier 4 cashout

This post is part one in a post that I've been wanting to write for several weeks.  The issue I had was that many of the ideas were constantly evolving in my head and I think my previous attempts attempted to cover too much and ended up covering nothing.  Plus, oftentimes I found it more therapeutic to vent my frustrations at the game mechanics by blowing ships up rather than blogging about it.  This post will mostly focus on Nulli's recent foray into faction warfare and the follow-up will focus on game mechanics and some new insights they were able to help provide.

Nulli Secunda
The impact of Nulli Secunda, I have to say ended up being much less than we expected.  I think the time it took for them to grind standings killed a lot of their momentum, by the time they finally joined a couple weeks had been burned.  Then, they got to experience the harsh learning curve that is faction warfare.  Sadly, once they got the hang of things, they also realized just how boring of a grind that plexing warfare control is and with things picking up in Venal, their attention quickly shifted and redeploying to null became way more important than hitting Tier 5.  Had Nulli been able to get into the militia faster and stayed a little longer, I think they would have worn down the Minmatar's defensive plexing attempts, since winning the plexing war is one of rewards and boredom, but this never happened.

I think most of us are a bit disappointed, but not surprised with Nulli's overall impact and dedication.  For the first week they brought out impressive fleets, and quickly plexed up systems the Minmatar didn't care about, but after that they mostly disappeared from the warzone.  Its worth noting that before they joined, we got 19 systems plexed to vulnerable on our own and Nulli only brought that up to 40.  In the end, I think their only real impact was accelerating the inevitable by plexing vulnerable systems and bashing iHubs.  I for one am grateful for their help, and in retrospect, I think the issue was one of their attempt being something no one had ever tried before.  I think there were many lessons learned and if Nulli or another large group tries to do something similar it will go much smoother.

Taking Kourmonen
No propaganda twist here, we never really expected to take Kourmonen.  In the weeks leading up to our successful conquest of Kourmonen, Minmatar activity during US TZ had dropped off considerably and Metropolis pretty much dies at night in terms of activity.  Combined with station lockout, there's really no point doing much roaming to attempt to get a fight out of anyone other than Late Night.  Because of this, we started plexing Kourmonen in an attempt to get fights, however, once the weekend hit we found ourselves in a favourable position to actually take the system.

The Saturday that we actually took the system, Nulli was only present for maybe an hour of festivities.  They brought a 100 man frigate gang, obviously no one wanted to fight it, so they left.  The other 95% of the cap effort was primarily Moar Tears, Imperial Outlaws, Fweddit, Lost Obsession, The Arrow Project, and a handful of other corps/alliances.  By the time it was clear we were going to take the system, the Minmatar simply started moving assets into Huola, one jump away rather than try to defend the system.  As they were evaccing, I brought out my first smartbomb BS and got myself a Hands pod.  OP success!!!

Why Tier 5 Failed
Even though Nulli still has yet to leave, its unlikely at this point that we'll be able to hit Tier 5.  I don't think there's one overwhelming reason that stands out, rather a multitude of reasons.  Interestingly enough, while the Nulli experiment "failed" I think it gave us the chance to observe a lot of mechanics at work.

1) Lack of overall dedication.  I don't mean to disrespect Nulli Secunda by saying they didn't try at all, I think they meant well, but I simply don't think they expected the amount of resistance for the final 10 systems required to hit Tier 5.  By the time things had gotten to the point where only 10 systems were remaining and it was clear a more significant time investment would be required, Nulli had already given up and had shifted their priorities back to the action in Nullsec.  

Expanding on that point, the biggest issue with Nulli came in the form of failure follow through with commitments and plans we agreed on.  I think if the Amarr militia had just done our own thing from the beginning, we would have made much more overall progress.  Instead, we had repeated situations where Nulli would agree to support us in reaching certain strategic goals and we would plan our own efforts around this unified plan, only to find that when crunch time came around Nulli had disappeared to go fight in nullsec.  This essentially led to several weeks of wasted effort and time that could have been used much more productively.

2) Failure to change overall strategy.  This is just one of those hindsight things, but I think that until recently, pretty much everyone, Minmatar included, expected us to get enough systems to hit Tier 5 and flip them all in the same day.  Instead, over the past week, the warzone had pretty much settled at 40 vulnerable systems and any additional efforts to plex up got defensive plexed back down.  In retrospect, I think a partial answer to this stagnation would have been to flip the systems that we had in order to force plexers into non-vulnerable systems, make plexing in deep Metropolis easier by having stations to dock and stage in, and force the Minnies to take a more offensive stance rather than purely defensive.  However, I'm not convinced this alone would have changed things.  I think it would have helped, but I think the steadfast adherence to the original plan was due to Nulli expectations and promises that never really panned out.

3) Gallente gaining the upper hand over Caldari.  Immediately post-Inferno, the strategy of plexing in allied opposing militia's space wasn't well known.  The majority of Minmatar plexers plexed in Amarr space until we stopped actively contesting our warzone and dropped to 3 systems, which effectively forced Minmatar plexers into Caldari space.  At this time, the Caldari were dominating the Gallente, however, the large influx of Minmatar plexers slowly turned this around giving the Gallente the upper hand.  By the time Nulli joined, the Gallente owned tons of systems ripe for Amarr plex farmers and because people had realized Amarr could also plex Gallente space so we never really got the plex farmer push we were expecting.

4) European timezone and decentralization. I don't think we truly realized how dominant the Minmatar European time zone was in terms of numbers.  All it takes to defend a system is really a single corp/alliance living there with a dominant time zone.  We saw this on the Amarr side with Sahtogas as Black Watch Guard, an Australian corp, single-handedly was able to defensive plex down any efforts to take the system.

In the Metropolis theater, you pretty much saw this effect, but with 4-5 groups creating a stronghold of sorts.  While our European time zone is relatively weak, it can handle groups like Iron Oxide, Zombie Ninja Space Bears(awesome name), Spiritus Draconis, Ushra'Khan, and Electus Matari individually.  However, once you venture into Metropolis, not only are you fairly cut off from the majority of your miltia, the interlinking map layout makes it very easy for those groups to support each other while also being able to completely shut down access to the entire region on a single gate, ie: Eszur.

5) Chatgris and Qcats.  I gotta give a shout out to Chatgris and his crew here.  Qcats moved to the space around where Nulli was basing purely to farm Nulli kills and farm Nulli kills they did.  Many of us were hoping that over time Nulli would improve their small gang PVP skills and by the time they pushed towards the middle of the warzone they would have their tactics solidly down.  Instead, they kept feeding Qcats kills and giving them a reason to stay around.  Because of this, the reality is that Chatgris' crew slowed down Nulli's advance enough in the US TZ that by they hit the primary Euro opposition in the middle of the warzone, their initial enthusiasm was already gone and they never really quite got good at plexing (running away and not giving the enemy incentive to keep chasing them by giving PVP kills) despite being there for the LP and not for the PVP.

The Importance of Perspective
When you're on the winning side its difficult to admit that there's anything wrong with the system.  An important thing to remember is that the Amarr experience is much different than the Minmatar one.  The Minmatar have been in a dominant position since Inferno and the status quo hasn't really changed since then.  The Caldari/Gallente front has see-sawed back and forth much more and as a result, both sides have had the opportunity to be on both sides of post-Inferno game mechanics and have a relatively balanced perspective.  Alternatively, its difficult for the Minmatar to understand our frustrations from a game mechanics perspective.

A good example that comes to light is the issues with the plexing system being totally disjointed from PVP.  From the Amarr perspective, there isn't much you can do in terms of warzone control since even if you sneak up on them with a cloaked stealth bomber, the plexer just gets in another cheap plexing frigate and keeps plexing or warps off and runs down other timers and you're lefting fighting a battle you'll never win.  On the other hand, the Minmatar have little to complain about because going after plexers yields them tons of PVP, most recently in the form of Nulli Secunda and previously in the form of Fweddit and pretty much any newcomer to Faction Warfare.

As a result, our assessments of game mechanics tend not to match up very well.  With the amount of factional pride present in FW, no one wants to admit that their success might also partially be favourable game mechanics.  I don't want to take away from the Minmatar's successes by saying that the only reason they're winning is because of game mechanics.  I just want to point out that when you're winning, you're less likely to notice things that are wrong with the system.  I think that many of us on both sides were hoping that Nulli would have a significant enough impact to create a situation where they would be able to experience some of our frustrations with the system, but I think this is very unlikely now and I expect only minor tweaks for the winter patch.  This is really unfortunate, since our CSM delegate Hands is on the Minmatar side and even though he attempts to hear as many viewpoints as he can, being able to experience things firsthand would have been a great evaluative opportunity.

Post-Nulli and Final Thoughts
Now that Nulli has gone back to nullsec, I fully expect things to settle back to the level of stagnation that they had prior to them joining.  I'm not going to deny that many of us in the Amarr militia were disappointed we were unable to hit Tier 5.  One thing that I found surprising, however, is the mixed responses to the near Tier 5 miss.  Many people feel angry at Nulli, others feel as if they've caused more long-term harm than good, while many of us were just happy to be able to cash out the LP we've accrued since Inferno.  I think the feeling among most leadership within the Amarr militia is that we're just glad that our people have been able to cash out on LP and hopefully bring some more interesting ships to fleets from here on out.

I doubt that there will be much defense of the massive warzone push.  Namely because not much in terms of the status quo was really broken while Nulli was here.  We never quite attracted the farmers en masse that we had hoped, and the ones that we did get just plexed in vulnerable systems or Gallente space.  None of the Minmatar staging areas were changed, so attempting to contest our warzone would likely end up in a situation similar to the first 6 weeks of Inferno. We actually started running plexing fleets the week prior to Nulli flipping in an attempt to get to Tier 5, but by the time that week was over our fleets were a fraction the size of the ones we started with and people just stopped logging on.  I think many of us, Minmatar included, were hoping this would be a catalyst needed to break the stagnation of the warzone, but in reality not enough has really changed to enable that.  Honestly, most of us within the new guard are just happy that we can go back to not caring about the warzone and back to focusing on PVP. 


  1. I would blame it all on DurrDurrDurr and BobFromMarketing. Hard to get anything going with those two shitting up comms all day long. :)

    1. lol Durr and Bob's 'shitting up' efforts pale in comparison to the wonderful job you do with that blog of yours.

    2. I blame Fweddit's AFK leadership.

    3. They are just nowhere to be found.

    4. Someone asked ?

  2. I think the two main problems that stopped Amarr from achieving T5 are:

    a) the lack of a serious EUTZ force(s) that can fight the Minmatar Eurobros. W-BR is simply a corporation that happens to be in Faction Warfare, and as much as I like some of them, they are happy to farm ISK on their Minmatar alts and are just not invested in the system the same way other Amarr are. I really can't think of any other Amarr group that is coordinated or talented enough to fill this role. Late Night Alliance that you can still slow down the enemy enough even with number disadvantages (and don't you even start to say the Amarr USTZ is weaker! It's not!) for your stronger TZ to make headway.

    b) the geography of the warzone. Fucking terrible.

    1. The real question is does it actually matter?

      Apart from a role play sense and wanting to be 'Amarr Victor' (substitute whatever the Minmatar say) holding systems doesn't actually give you anything that really matters.

      FW is the one place in EVE where someone can go 'didn't want those systems anyway' and actually mean it because you can be both sides at once and it makes more sense for one side to 'WIN'

      In reality a balanced back and forth war zone would be terrible financially as it would likely be T1/2 with the odd blip to T3.

      Kind of an odd system CCP came up with.

  3. Trust me, minnie militia know how broken fw plexing mechanics (afk plexing, perma vulnerable systems, etc) and Hans doing everything to fix it... But CCP not that fast at fixing broken stuff, so man up, stop whining and fight.

    //one of minnie militia

    1. Fighting has nothing to do with the taking of systems and only a loon would want AFK, perma vulnerable systems fixing as the smaller plexing side would never get out of T1 ever.

  4. With respect to the decentralization issue, I feel vindicated. After the fall of Kourmonen, I said on Poetic Stanziel's blog the optimal strategy for the Minmatar, given our rather weak performance in fleet/large-gang engagements, would be to spread out to cover more ground, since an occupied system is impervious to anything short of an organized push.

    The Metro crowd has always been more spread out that the Bleak Lands Minmatar, and I think we saw it pay off.

  5. The article gave some good insight but the entire underlying tone is you are disappointed that Amarr didn't hit Tier 5 and Nulli is the scape goat.

    "Its worth noting that before they joined, we got 19 systems plexed to vulnerable on our own and Nulli only brought that up to 40." So Nulli more than doubled the vulnerable systems in under 2 weeks yet "The impact of Nulli Secunda, I have to say ended up being much less than we expected." So basically you are saying you wanted Nulli to do 75% of the work or more? You are basically saying you wanted Nulli to be your hero and get Tier 5 for you yet the entire article is how disappointed you are that they didn't walk you through the park to the candy store.

    The area where Nulli didn't adapt to quickly was keeping the pipe clean for their plexers to move to/from systems quickly. The QCATs took advantage of this and colored their killboards green. There were several nights where Nulli fleets did form up and chased everyone out for several hours at a time but as soon as the fleet docked the Minmitar would quickly resume ganking non-pvp plexing pilots being told to head to certain systems and orbit the button for hours at a time.

    1. I'm not going to lie and say that i'm not a little disappointed, everyone including Nulli is disappointed we didn't hit Tier 5, but i'm definitely not bitter and am ultimately grateful for what Nulli did. In the end, we got to cashout our LP at Tier 4 and I still think progod is a cool dude. Lots of lessons were learned.

      The reason a lot of us expected Nulli to be the hero, is because they themselves came in and said they would be the hero, rather loudly in fact, saying they would blitz the warzone in two weeks. From the start of the effort, Nulli said that if we would handle the Amarr side of the warzone and Nulli would push from the Minmatar side in Metropolis. By the time it was clear that this was ineffective and Nulli began asking for additional help, they had already mostly deployed back to Null. In the final week, many of us led plexing fleets and attempted to get the final ten systems on our own, but without additional support, the results were rather predictable.