Life in EvE: Evaluating Faction Warfare #eveonline

“I’m not sure about this,” CB muttered, slowly rotating his glass on the table between us.

“You don’t have to be sure about it,” I said. “You’re not doing it. I’m the one –”

“Yeah, well…” he cut in. “I’ve been thinking about it too.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Really.”

“Yeah.” His expression, concealed behind his mirrored glasses, was typically unreadable. “It’s nice to set up in a wormhole and say ‘fuck you’ to the rest of the world –”

“Dunno if ‘nice’ is quite how I’d put it.” I murmured.

“But sometimes,” he continued, as though I hadn’t spoken, “I wouldn’t mind shooting someone when it’s more important than ‘Get off our lawn.'”

“Yeah…” My eyes wandered to the small exterior viewport — a luxury in anyone’s general quarters, even on a Gallente station. The angle was good, displaying part of the nearby aqua nebula of the Essence Region and, behind it and further distant, the clenched red fist of Heimatar. “Yeah.”

CB shook himself and straightened in his chair, rubbing at the cable contacts on the back of his neck. “You said they pay any capsuleers that sign up?”

“For capturing enemy complexes or taking out war target vessels, yeah.” I replied. “And there’s always special missions, if you’re inclined.” He gave me a look that spoke volumes even with his glasses on, and I chuckled. “Right. So no missions.” I poked a handheld where I’d been taking notes. “Payouts look like they’re on a sliding scale — if we’re winning, there’s more money to go around. If we’re aren’t…” I shrugged.

CB tossed back the rest of his drink and stood, heading for my already-plundered mini-bar. “Just tell me if we’ll make enough to cover ammo.”


Affordability

As I said, I don’t have a problem with losing ships, and you really do have to lose some to learn stuff, but at the same time I don’t want to just chuck ISK down the toilet — if I can get my education on a budget, then that’s going to make me even more relaxed about diving into a fight.

The interesting thing about the Faction War system is that it (apparently) revolves around the capturing (offensively or defensively) of “complexes” out in the low-sec space that acts as the buffer between warring factions. These complexes come in a number of flavors and (more importantly) sizes, and are basically locked to certain ships classes. The ‘minor’ complexes can – for instance – only be entered by basic tech 1 frigates, tech 1 destroyers, and the tech1-but-slightly-better “navy” frigates. These complexes need to be run to take over a system, and they can only be run by these cheap little ships, which means you are not just allowed but actually encouraged to fly cheap stuff that doesn’t hurt that bad to lose. Nice. I’ve never really felt that a ship that costs five times as much to buy is actually five times as fun to fly, so the chance to fly a lot of the cheap stuff appeals to me, especially since those ships are currently getting rebalanced and in some cases dramatically changed in the near future.

Also, since those complexes are locked to certain ship classes, they become a really good place to engage an opponent, because while he might bring in backup, what he’s not going to do is drop four battlecruisers on your little frigate, because they can’t get inside the complex. You might end up fighting outnumbered, but at least you won’t be the guy that brings a knife to a gun fight.

And pretty much everything you do in Faction Warfare (missions, capturing plexes, and even just blowing up an opponent’s ship) earns you Loyalty points with your faction, all of which can be cashed in for valuable stuff that you can either use yourself or turn around and sell on the market for a decent profit. I’m not sure on the ratios of Loyalty Points to ISK, but the range seems to go from “meh” (for the guys who don’t control much of the warzone) to “OMG this is Wormhole/Incursion-level income.”

In short, you’re flying cheap, fun ships and getting paid well enough to keep flying them pretty much indefinitely.


“What ships do I need to fit out?” CB asked, returning to the table with five miniature bottles and one large glass. “Should I go get the Vagabond?”

“Vaga? Oh, hell no.” I spun my handheld around and slide it over to him, snagging one of the bottles for myself before it disappeared into his tumbler.

A small frown formed above his glasses. “What the hell’s a Bellicose?”

“Original hull they designed the Rapier from.”

“Oh, that. I’ve got one of those…” he waved his hand in the direction of the outer hull of the station. “Somewhere.” He scrolled down the list. “Jesus, it’s all RvB roam stuff. Frigates and DDs and shit. This is what they fly?”

“Ninety percent of the time, yeah.”

“Do we even need to buy anything for this?”

“Fittings,” I admitted, “but the hulls? No. We have enough.”

His eyebrow rose. “What’s your definition of ‘enough’?”

I reached over and scrolled the display all the way to the bottom tally. For a moment, he was silent, then he started uncapping tiny bottles.

“That’s a lot of ships that need blowing up,” he muttered. “Where do we need to move em?”

I smirked and took a drink. “We’re already there.”


Accessibility

One of my goals with the Life in Eve posts is to show people different parts of the game, and (maybe) encourage a new player to give it a try, or bring a veteran player back to check out the new features. I love wormholes, but I don’t think I’d surprise anyone if I said that they are not in any way a good option for a new player.

Faction Warfare, by contrast, might be one of the best options for new players.

  • Easy-to-fly ships: I’ve already mentioned this in terms of cost, but from a training and skills point of view, this is also an appeal — the backbone of faction warfare is made of tech1 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, which are the first ships you learn how to fly in the game.
  • Easy to afford activity: You’ll lose ships, but you’ll make isk enough to afford those losses and then some. I ran into a pilots a few nights ago who was capturing complexes, solo, and making good money doing it — he was a two-week old player.
  • Location, Location, Location: The low-sec areas where Faction Warfare takes place are, in general, only a few jumps away from the high-sec systems where new players get their basic training. This makes moving ‘close’ to the warzone very easy (even for new players, for whom moving a half-dozen frigates seems terribly daunting), and in many cases a complete non-issue.

“Alright,” CB said, in that precise way he had when he was trying not to slur. “Doesn’t sound like this will completely suck. When’re you going to sign up?”

I looked at him and said nothing.

“You already signed up.”

I nodded.

“Got any intel on what’s going on out there? Where they need us?”

I reached up to the wall panel next to the table and flipped off the ‘mute’ option I’d tapped when he’d first shown up at my door.

“Siseide contested — someone jump in a frig and stop that cap.”

“Wartargets:  zealot and blackbird in Lamaa.”

“Kourmonen system upgraded to Level 4.”

“War targets still in Tararan?”
“Affirmative.”
“On my way.” 

We listened to the chatter for a few minutes. It didn’t let up.

CB stood up and headed for the door.

“Where yah going?”

“Gonna suit up and go help,” he said over his shoulder. “Besides, you’re out of booze.”

The door slid open, then closed, and it was just me and the radio chatter.

“Break break — I’ve got a twenty-five-ship fleet in Eszur, looks like they’re heading our way.”

I looked at the screen, the mustering system flashing only a few jumps away.

“Ahh, hell with it,” I muttered, and ran for the hangar balcony.


Activity

Maybe I’m being a bit bitchy about wormholes, but there are times when having to scan for an hour every evening before you can do something is… a little bit of a momentum killer. Every game needs something for those times when you just want to log in and do something right then, right now, and my first-blush impression is that Faction Warfare offers that for EvE players — it may be one of the best examples of instant-on something-to-do that I’ve seen in the game so far, with options ranging from solo pvp, solo or small group complex running, to gang roams and full-on fleets.

Will it turn out to be everything it seems to be? I have no idea.

But I plan to find out.


For another “first impression” take on Faction Warfare, I highly recommend this essay on Eve Altruist. As usual, Azual delivers a fantastic breakdown of the subject.


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7 Replies to “Life in EvE: Evaluating Faction Warfare #eveonline”

  1. If it gives you more excuses to write like this, I hope you love faction warfare.

    Are you concerned with having to rub elbows with some of the less sophisticated pilots that you’ll run into? One of the difficult things about wormholes is it forces you to work very closely with other players. This can be very rewarding with a good group after a while but this forced reliance also makes irritating players completely untenable pretty quickly. You often write about how short your patience is for some other players. There’s a part of me hoping you’ll write some posts about terrible FCs and offensive idiots in the near future. The “Surround Sound of Stupid” arc was funny as hell.

  2. My plan at this point is to incorporate a lot more fiction elements into these posts. Generally, that’s more fun to right, people seem to like them okay, and it is after all what I do.

    For a quick-and-dirty tale about a particularly held-slapping moment I’ve already encountered in Faction Warfare, check out this post on Reddit. It’s a doozy.

    The nice thing about the people who seem hell bent on stupidity in Faction Warfare is that is doesn’t really have to affect you if you don’t let it. I don’t care too much about kill boards anyway, but I REALLY don’t care about whatever that guy does with his carrier. No one gets too bent out of shape (or they shouldn’t) over a guy who makes a minor mistake during a roam with six other frigates and destroyers, because really we’re just out to have a good time and maybe get a kill.

    It’s definitely different in a wormhole, where one guy’s mistake can leave you vulnerable in a way that will cost you and others billions of isk.

    But yes, I’m quite likely to write about the good, the bad, and the terrible. I’ve already had some pretty interesting encounters, and it’s only been a week.

  3. One more note: there are a LOT of newer EvE players FW, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a little daunting when someone asks in milchat “How do I get more power grid on my ship?” I mean… where do you start?

    That said, I like teaching — it’s what I do for a living — so I don’t really mind answering questions and helping folks out. I’ve already had a couple good two-man fleets with very new pilots so we could cover each other while running complexes, and in both cases had a good conversation and (hopefully) helped them out a little.

  4. I admit I have been tempted by FW for a few weeks now. You summarized the momentum killer of wormhole ops well, and that is the constant scanning. Just last night we managed to find people to shoot at and thought we might actually make a night of it, until things slowed down to a crawl as we encountered nothing but empty systems time after time.

    I also didn’t realize the restrictions in FW plexes were that strict. I figured anything that allowed tech 1 frigates and destroyers would also allow tech 2. While it is possible to kill a wolf or a jaguar in a rifter, that won’t be the result most of the time.

    Honestly, the only thing that has stopped me from giving it a try is the prospect of a standings loss with two factions. I consider myself a wormholer, and don’t like the idea that I may not be able to use the hisec exit we’ve probed down because it leads to space that will get me shot at by faction police.

  5. The plexes are — as Azual mentioned in his blog post — a great way to level the playing field a bit in a brawl. The minor plexes allow only tech1 frigates, destroyers, and faction frigates like the Hookbill and kite-happy Imperial Navy Slicer. Technically, it means they’ll also allow stuff like the Dramiel and Daredevil, but in practice I’ve never seen them. Faction frigs are far more common with pilots looking for technological edge, partly because they’re so bloody cheap if you get them through the FW store.

    The ‘medium’ plexes (which doen’t have a size designator and are just called stuff like like “Amarr Outpost”) allow tech1 cruisers (including faction stuff) and down, so you’ll see tech2 frigates in there. Like the minors, pirate faction ships like cynabal can enter the sites, and it seems like they show up a bit more than dramiels do in minor plexes, but they’re still far from common.

    Honestly, though, if I’m capturing complexes, I rarely fly anything but my little AB-fit, dual-rep incursus. With the decent speed and low signature size, I can literally speed tank any size of Amarr complex (up to and including the ‘unrestricted’ sites that will allow in any class of sub-cap), and most of the Caldari ‘plexes (they’re a bit more difficult to tank, because missiles, but not impossible).

    And honestly, since the rebalancing of the Incursus, Merlin, and Tormentor, these little tech1 ships are NOTHING to sneeze at. My Incursus has no damage mods or damage rigs, and it can still put out absurd dps (180 with Void) and tank over 150 incoming dps. I don’t care what frigate you’re flying; those are numbers you have to respect (even if the pilot happens to be complete rubbish, which I am).

    Related to your comment on faction standings. I was worried about it as well, but it turned out to be not much of an issue. Thanks to my early EvE days running many, many level 4 Gallente and Minmatar missions, my standings with Caldari and Amarr factions were already pretty low, but surprisingly neither have dropped any further since I joined FW — I could leave FW at this point and both the Caldari and Amarr would go back to ignoring me. This is mostly because I don’t run FW missions (I should — they pay well) or bother shooting the NPCs when running complexes, because I can speed tank the lot of them. Shooting players on the other side of the war only lowers your standing with the enemy’s FW corp, not the whole faction. At some point, I’ll eventually run enough plexes to get a promotion within the militia, and at that point, I believe my standings with Amarr and Caldari will drop, but until then, it’s really not a huge deal, at all.

    Now, just because my standings haven’t tanked, that doesn’t mean I’m off the hook: the navies in Caldari and Amarr high-sec space still threaten to shoot at me if I fly though, but they don’t disrupt your warp engines and can’t lock frigates fast enough to do anything in any case, so really it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t autopilot — you can still dock in enemy high-sec with no problem. (Funny note: the faction cops don’t scram you, but they do web, and I’ve actually heard that some guys prefer to fly their freighters through enemy high-sec, because the cops helpfully web your ship and get it into warp much faster.)

    I didn’t want my wormhole friends or my alts to have to deal with the hassle of dodging cops, however (how often to wormholes come out in Amarr space?), so I did move Ty into a new corp for this, and just set the two corps (FW and WH) to +10, because POS towers. Honestly, it didn’t have to be Ty, other than the fact that he’s pretty much my main: you can accomplish so much with frigates and destroyers that really any halfway decent 21-day hero can have fun in FW.

  6. Thanks for sharing this little sequence.

    Recently had a friend join EVE and was thinking of things we could do together like this. As you said, WH is hard on the new player (or near impossible), and I’d never done FW. Will give this a close look and see if he is up for some fun.

  7. Really good post 🙂 gotta talk to you ingame at some point about the war and everything but to be honest that’s pretty much how it happened. I have yet to move back into another wormhole, but there are some current big parties going on around the place 🙂

    Faction Warfare is incredibly fun at the moment, even on the outnumbered very low control level on the Amarr side. I dare say I prefer it that way, but without Fweddit it wouldn’t nearly be as much fun I think.

    Also as you said it is just so very very easy to make money and have fun as a new person to eve. The only thing I can do over a new player is waste hideous amounts of ISK on faction Frigates with crazy mods.

    Now I must get my hands on your book.

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