This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

For an introduction to this blog refer to this link. You may also want to check out the guide for new readers

: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.

24 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 76 - How to nerf, and how not to nerf

It's CSM campaign time, and that means there are all kinds of discussions, proposals, questions and hopes about game mechanics changes.

A lot of that involves nerfing one thing or other. Be it passive income from moons, "blapdreads" (I really hate the word blap btw), highsec as a whole ... you can pick and choose.

Personally I really dislike nerfing if it's not done properly, and I decided to not vote for any candidate who uses that word without having really good reasoning supporting it.

In this piece I will explain why I came to that decision. Maybe you find yourself agreeing with me.

How to nerf properly

The last pen-and-paper roleplaying game I have played was Mage the Ascension. In it's last incarnation, that game changed the rules to make working powerful magic more risky and difficult.

That might seem arbitrary, but it was not.

There was a very genuine in-universe reason why that happened. Not that I want to bother you too much with the complicated metaphysics of Mage the Ascension, but I can tell you this: In our modern world, people believe less and less in magic, wonders and supernatural powers. Because of that, it becomes harder to push the envelope. Nobody simply calls down lightning from the sky anymore with hermetic incantations or turns people into newts by means of ancient curses.

So what does that have to do with EVE?

Well, in the universe of EVE-Online we have seen many changes in the past year or two. Some of them made perfect sense within the narrative of the game and it's world. Some others definitely did not.

I would argue that such changes should be consistent with the universe rather than being arbitrary modifications of game mechanics.

Let's look at some examples.

The Good

Recently the T1 frigates and cruisers got rather improved. That surely made sense. After all, there is going to be technological development. Especially when there is a war going on. It may be a cold war where the four great empires stare at eachother peevishly across some low security sectors, but there are also capsuleers - who are customers of the companies designing ships - waging war out in nullsec (well if they don't all blue eachother)

Mining barges are another example of a sensible change.

Outer Ring Excavations might hold a monopoly on mining ships, but even then they want to keep their customers happy. If your mining barge can be outperformed by a battleship with mining lasers because it can survive a suicide attack, you might realize you are not competitive anymore. Time to improve and diversify. And so it happened.

Looking at nerfs that have happened within those years, we see lower loot drops in highsec, Interbus-run customs offices and lower mission rewards. All of them are sensible. After all, there are corporate monopolies that can be acquired from Empire establishments. Pirates venturing into highsec will fit their ships more cheaply after years of being killed by capsuleers. Agents will pay less if there are so many capsuleers available to run missions for them.

The rewards on Incursions are fine too. After all they are set by CONCORD and they might see fit to adjust them so capsuleers are incentivized to clear certain Sansha sites rather than others.

The Bad

Why do my missiles suddenly have shorter range? How come the Incursus suddenly can not repair as much armour.

Does that make sense?

Imagine that in the real world. Would Boeing suddenly make the Apache helicopter less effective because there are people who complain that it's overpowered? Of course not! Actually they would improve on that successful concept.

Still this is exactly what happened to missile launchers. Heavy missile launchers now have shorter range and less damage. Someone tell me how the defense contractors who make those got away with suddenly offering a degraded product.

Some nerfs even break the rules of the in-game universe completely.

One of my favorite hate object is the reshipping timer. Some time ago it was possible to change ships from an on-board hangar within an instant. Now that is not possible anymore.

How does that work?

Or why did supercarriers suddenly magically lose part of their hitpoints for no reason? Did the physical properties of their component materials change? They still need exactly the same amount of stuff to build after all.

The examples of nerfs which break the suspension of disbelief and make no sense are many: Titan tracking; no more dronebays on Dreadnaughts; carriers that suddenly can't launch normal drones anymore, and so on.

But how do you deal with things that are overpowered?

In the second world war, during the North Africa campaign, Erwin Rommel used the 88mm anti-aircraft gun against heavily armoured British tanks which could not be destroyed with standard anti-tank guns. The British complained about this "unsportsmanlike" repurposing of a weapon. Since that was the real world and there was no game developer who could nerf the 88mm gun, the British had to make do. New tank designs and tactics were the result.

The same should happen in EVE.

Why do Duvolle, Khanid Innovations, Kaalakiota and Boundless Creation not come up with new ships that can counter specific threats? There are certainly capsuleer customers out there who would buy the blueprints.

Actually there have been good examples how this can work out: The Alchemy system which makes transformation of moon minerals possible - for example - while not being ideal, it makes sense. The same goes for the sensor strength skills which are supposed to help against ECM or the new armor tanking changes in Retribution 1.1.

Those things could go much further though. There could be special reaction arrays which make Alchemy more effective, better ECCM modules, ships that specialize in anti-capital warfare and so on.

Of course that is time consuming to do, but so is coming up with nerfs that are "balanced". Also, looking for options to empower rather than nerf would enrich the game rather than reducing it's scope.

It would give creative players - and EVE is full of them - more things to play with, but most importantly it will send a message to all existing and potential players: That EVE is a game where senseless nerfs are not done. That CCP is a company who are constantly driving their game forward and values in-universe consistency more than the developers of other games (WoW is infamous for it's heavy handed nerfs I am told).

That would be a selling point for the game, and it should make CSM candidates as well as developers think twice about nerfing things.

21 Feb 2013

Blog Banter 45 - Brainwashing the masses

There is a blog banter again, and this time it's actually touching on one of my pet-peeves in life and in EVE online. So be warned, I am going into full controversy mode now:

In a socially-driven game environment such as EVE Online's, everyone has an agenda. CCP promotes its products and has an army of volunteers to do the same; corporations and alliances deliver entertaining recruitment drives, CSM election candidates solicit for voter favour, bloggers and podcasters opine to their audiences.

In this intricate web of communication, influence and control, what part does propaganda play in your game?

Throughout my life I have been subjected to all kinds of brainwashing attempts, media manipulation, peer pressure, role model enforcement, advertising and other such things which usually get transported by propaganda.

There was even a time when I believed some of it.

I learned how wrong I was the hard way.

From that point on, I became an obsessively independent person with a defensive perimeter against outside influence that puts the U.S. embassy of Baghdad to shame. I have an active aversion against any organization that makes heavy use of Propaganda. To me it is the hallmark of a society that is in a state were things are wrong. Nations at war use propaganda. Religious fanatics do. It is a staple of dictatorships and disingenuous corporate moneygrabbers.

Whoever uses propaganda wants to reduce the discourse to populist oneliners and forge a unified group of people with only one goal: To do what their leaders want them to do.

Back when I started playing EVE I knew nothing of big alliances and all that. Very soon, though, I encountered the propaganda videos of Goonswarm on youtube. While I have to admit, that they are very good, I immediately developed a mistrust for those Goonswarm guys. I didn't even know who they were, but I disliked them because of those videos. Despite all the admirable creativity and skill that had gone into them.

I guess that mistrust saved me quite some grief in-game.

I fully understand how all that works. Like I said, it used to work on me too. Even now I still feel the lure. Sometimes I rewatch old Goonswarm or BoB videos and I feel the tingle of that dangerous desire to lose myself in the collective entity. To feel like you are part of something greater than yourself.

Of course I quickly realize again that it's all an illusion. The last thing the propagandists want is to make you great. They want you to stay within the borders they have established and toe the party line, so they can stay on top and remain the rulers with absolute power.

Of course EVE is a game, and Goonswarm and all the other big nullsec powers of past and present are not communist Russia or Nazi Germany, but the psychology remains the same, and the effect on in-game behaviour as well.

Just look at how it works out there.

It is a naive assumption, that nullsec is a lawless zone. Far from it. Actually highsec with it's griefers, scammers and ninja looters is far more lawless than wide stretches of nullsec. At least the people in highsec do whatever the hell they feel like doing within the constraints of the aggression mechanics and PVE content.

In nullsec, where such constraints do not exist, you have people who will only rat in systems they are allowed to. They can only settle in systems assigned to them, They are required to fly certain ships with certain fits and they will even get up late at night to be in time for some structure timer. They will vote for the same CSM candidate, post in support of the same forum threads, say the same things in local, and they have the same friends and the same enemies.

That is what propaganda makes them do.

 Of course that is then whitewashed with even more propaganda. Supposedly it's about community, friendship, lolz and mutual support. The members are kept happy by scraps they get from the table of their masters: Free ships, skillbooks and ISK. For the top tier that is mere change. The glass baubles with which they impress their gullible underlings.

In the end many nullsec alliance members become almost incapable of independent action. That is most evident when some truly independent, self-sufficient and skilled players run into a group of them that flies without leadership. The members of large powerblocs then usually end up on the killboards of small PVP alliances or even solo PVPers, because those people have not been stunted by propaganda and pampered with free gifts from seemingly beneficial masters. After that, the losers get ridiculed by their peers for getting destroyed. But it's all good. After all they are part of something big and powerful.

It is sad to look at actually.

Ok, so the question was which role propaganda plays in my gaming experience.

The answer is: In my personal environment, none. Apart from that, it serves as a constant reminder of the freedom which I have in game and as a warning sign for myself with whom I do not want to get involved no matter how great their propaganda art is.

Also it often annoys the hell out of me because I have to constantly second-guess everything that is written by the propagandists and their servants. Sometimes I get a bit tired of that and would just like to really know what is going on in game. Without some spin added.

The propaganda videos from the old Goonswarm vs. BoB war are still great pieces of modern art.

What a shame that they serve such a purpose.

20 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 75 - In case you were considering to vote for James315

In the past I have done a lot of head-shaking and jaw-dropping while reading posts by James315. Now this man is running for CSM8 and I was eagerly awaiting his interview on Crossing Zebras.

It has occurred that people come across way differently during an interview as CSM candidate than they do when writing blogposts, forum comments and even when compared to their in-game behaviour. You know the type: "I am only behaving like that in-game. I am actually a nice person."

The most glaring example of this is maybe Xenuria. A man who generally comes across as quite the crackpot and is often admittedly trolling. In his interview he suddenly steps back from all of this, claiming that it was in-character.

Not so James315.

He openly declares that his self-assigned title "Saviour of Highsec" is no less ridiculous than calling yourself CEO of a corp in EVE. He says he is the only honest, non-trolling candidate because he really means what he stands for. All the other "politicians" are just unwilling to say the truth about what they really think - according to him - because they are afraid to lose votes.

Well, I am pretty sure that Mynnna does not have to be afraid about losing votes if he were to take an extreme stance. After all, at least all of Goonswarm is going to vote for him, if not a major part of the CFC.

Also I am pretty positive that Mike Azariah is not being double-faced when he says that he thinks suicide ganking should be made even more difficult.
Actually, I am sure he loses more votes by saying that than he stands to gain.

Really James???

Now, for the sake of the argument, I will take James' statements in exactly the way he says he means them: As the pure and honest opinion that forms the basis of his platform.

Let's look at those statements:

It starts with him saying that the risk vs. reward ratio is way out of proportion in favour of highsec and has become more and more so in the past years. CCP needs a reality check he says.

Ok, reality check time.

So, loot tables were adjusted and now less valuable things drop from highsec rats than before. Mission rewards were reduced and PI is mostly useless in highsec because of the recently introduced fixed high tax rate on customs offices.

Sure, there were a few things that made suicide ganking a bit more difficult and ninja griefing too, but they did not make those things impossible nor did anything happen that would offer the potential victims a possibility to defend themselves more effectively.

Buffed mining barges you say?

Well, James315 was talking about reality checks. An in-game reality check would include ORE making their ships more resilient as they are getting killed more.

Also, I dare you to tank a Skiff well enough so it can't be suicide ganked.

Actually, recently a change has happened that opened a new possibility for suicide ganking: Scannable Orca cargo holds. I know first-hand that quite a number of professional CFC suicide gankers rejoiced.

In that segment of the interview he also makes the statement that things begin to go wrong as soon as you can earn ISK while being AFK.

While that has become significantly more difficult for the mission runners due to the new AI, and no more easy or safe for miners, I want to point out here that the biggest AFK earners are the holders of moon mining POSes.

They are not only AFK making ISK, they are actually not even logged in while their riches increase.

So that whole argument does not work out.

Now let's assume ...

Let's say you don't care about all that and find his further arguments more nuanced and convincing.

On the first impression, he seems to make a good point by suggesting that more and more people from nullsec go to mine in highsec while that is not true the other way around. According to James315 that creates a pressure for people to move out of nullsec while that pressure should be working the other way.

I do not agree with him at all there. I am more on the side of Xander Phoena and his "what the hell do I care about those people in highsec" statement, but I will indulge James and imagine a New Eden where people are forced to either quit in rage or otherwise be forced to go out of highsec into nullsec.

Sounds great, right?

No, it sounds horrible!

What it would mean is, that masses of intrinsically risk-averse players who only want to make ISK and are not interested in the least in community-based emergent gameplay will flock to nullsec.

What do you think they will do there?

Of course they will make the already risk-averse nullsec establishments even more boring.

These days nullsec is already a wasteland watched over by a minority of PVP players who man the choke points with gatecamps and supply the intel channels with warnings about intruders. The chance of actually catching a mining gang or some ratters there is reduced to Black Ops ships, and even then ratters and miners will hide in a POS, a station or even log out once you appear in local.

I have been there, I have seen it. It happens all the time. My last experience was a whole mining fleet supported by ratting battleships hiding in their POS when I came into the system alone with a covops frigate.

After all, I could light a cyno!

Now imagine nullsec with even more miners and ratters who begin to form the majority of the players out there. James315 does not only not think this through, he even says mining and ratting should be more lucrative in nullsec so that more PVEers come to live there. All the while passive income through moon mining should remain the same.

Welcome to SimSpace.

EVE is now officially dead. Nobody is left in highsec except newbies getting victimized until they quit. Nobody lives in lowsec anymore either because there is no reason to go there. After all, nullsec is now the most rewarding and safe space, held in a stranglehold by a majority of super-rich industrialists and other PVEers who have all the money to hire themselves PVP pilots who will watch over them better than CONCORD ever did in highsec.

That will last for some time until all the PVP enthusiasts quit because they are bored out of their wits.

Well, maybe there will still be some fun in wormhole space. James315 does not seem to know that region exists, so it may remain safe from his "improvements".

So, if you were considering to vote for James315, don't.

Except of course if you want to troll the election and go for a candidate who is beyond all reason.

Actually, even if that is your goal, I'd suggest to vote for Xenuria instead, he is much more amusing.

I sincerely hope James315 is trolling, because if he is serious he is either not quite right in his head or he has a severely distorted view of the in-game and metagame reality.


P.S. In my eyes suicide gankers are cowards anyway. Go and wardec some people at least. Even then you are a loser if all you kill is carebears. That makes you no better than a mission runner who shoots at targets that don't really fight back.

Yours is not a playstyle, it's a declaration of your own inadequacy.

There. I said it.



Q: You mad?
A: No, I have never been suicide ganked, killed by a griefer, scammed, bumped or otherwise successfully victimized.

Q: Are you a carebear?
A: No. I do some PVE, but not even enough to really support my habit of losing ships in fights.

Q: Do you live in highsec?
A: No. I don't even live in New Eden. I only go there to shop or to try and fight people in nullsec (Many of them are not really up for it though)

15 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 74 - This is how you come home after a night out?!

That sentence was thrown at me by my mother after the first time I got really drunk on a night out and came home way later than the time I had been given to return. I looked pretty dishevelled. Barely able to walk straight and with my makeup messed up (I still did that makeup thing when I was way younger than I am now)

Since then, 24 years have passed and I am no longer accountable to anyone in that respect except maybe to my cats who look at me through half closed eyes in that way cats can look at you that makes you feel bad about yourself.

Yet, I remembered that night after a recent excursion in-game.

A few days ago, several people of my alliance went out on a nullsec roam with T1 cruisers. We had an armour fleet composition which is not optimal for nullsec, but it was as much about practising to fly armour ships (which makes sense in our wormhole environment) as it was for innocent fun.

We were busy for hours and eventually ended up in a mutual baiting match with EVE University forces. In the process of that I jumped ahead through a gate to survey the next system and found myself facing a Rote Kapelle gang comprised of Tornadoes and Taloses with a few Stilettos for tackling.

Naturally my Vexor did not make it back out the gate before they alpha'ed me off the field, and my pod didn't survive either.

After that, our next-in-line FC did his best to try and peel off something from that RTK force but we only lost a few more before everyone went to ground and eventually sneaked back out.

All that time I was sitting in station listening to the proceedings while sitting in station with my cloaky Loki I had flown out. When it was clear there was nothing we could do anymore - our forces scattered - I decided to fly home to our wormhole. It was close to 06:00 in the morning after all.

Our route back in went through a rather dodgy region of lowsec between Taisy and Oba. Those two systems are gateways into northern nullsec and usually see quite some action. I jumped into a gatecamp which I casually evaded and then landed in a rather big fight at an out-gate which I also more-or-less ignored.

I was considering to engage the few guys on the other side, but decided against it not because I felt it was too dangerous, but because I really felt like hugging my pillow instead.

I held cloak, even weighing the issue for some time.

Eventually, I warped away and went home, logging off in our wormhole.

Has anyone reading this spotted the major omission in that story?

It only hit me the next Monday. I was at work, bantering with my alliance mates on Jabber. Suddenly it came up, I opened EVEGate and saw it: I had forgotten to upgrade my clone after being podded.

There I was. In the depths of wormhole space! With an Alpha Grade clone to back up my 60 mill skillpoints!

The last time I felt so queasy involved an accident with a condom and the very real possibility of me getting pregnant because of it.

I literally had to get up from my chair and get out for some air.

EVE was real - My mind hadn't been there at a crucial moment.

I am still hiding cloaked because I still didn't make it out to upgrade my clone.

Ok, I was negligent and didn't pay attention, but one thing struck me as odd in all of this: When I hopped back into my Loki, the game deemed it necessary to warn me that I will lose skillpoints if I lose that ship.

There was no warning that I will lose many more skillpoints if I get podded after I undock with an insufficient clone.

I find that a bit inconsistent. What do you think about that?

12 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 73 - Dreaming and waking up in a storm

When I wrote the first part of my most recent episode I had just woken up in the middle of the night from a very weird dream in which I was one person that was actually three different people. Not like schizophrenia or so, but really, actually three different physical people who kept changing form from one to the other but retained the same consciousness while still having different personalities.

The fact that one of them was a cranky old man made things even more interesting than they already were.

With that experience fresh in my mind I sat down in the wee hours of last Thursday and wrote that first one and a half pages. I needed something like that to help me writing that part, and you will see why.

From that dream state, things immediately switch to full-on wakefulness in the middle of a firestorm. As you might remember, if you read the last installment, Cedrien, Sandrielle, Keram and Shisei abandoned Hegomir Torstan and the other two capsuleer women with the Awakened Preserver to warp directly into a battle with the Janissary order.

Well that comprises the second part of the story which I wrote today in a completely different mindset.

I still find it difficult to write space battle action scenes, but they should have a place in EVE related fiction. Still, I am always worried about the pacing and whether a reader can make sense of what is happening.

I guess they turn out a lot like the way space battles feel in EVE to anyone who is not super proficient at them. Lock something and shoot at it, get locked, get hit, see something else on the overview, get several different sorts of inputs at the same time about what is happening, and then you either make it out or you explode.

In the end this turned out to be the longest chapter so far, filling over three pages. Then again there are a lot of linebreaks in there. The wordcount only makes it a bit above average.

Maybe it just feels longer because lots of stuff is going on.

I hope you enjoy reading

4 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 72 - Lightning in the distance

That latest story of mine has built up like a massive thunderstorm darkening the sky and growing ever more menacing.

Now the release of the final confrontation is almost among us.

In the depths of space Hegomir Torstan is struggling with the alien machine the capsuleers of Awakened Industries have captured while the Yanissary order is launching their attack.

Somewhere out there is Arrakh with his Arclight Alliance fleet and Kassina Vikkonen is on her way to bring back Tomoe Sairinen whom she had captured. The question is whether anybody will still be there to receive her and pay for her work should she arrive in one piece.

Maybe you, my readers, are getting restless and all fidgety as things become more and more tense. Maybe you would wish to see things come to a conclusion quickly, but the episodes are just too short.

That has two reasons. On one hand, I have come to the conclusion that three pages A4/Letter format are about as much as one can comfortably read on a screen before the eyes become strained. The other reason is less altruistic. As you will have gathered from my more irregular release schedule and my OOC posts, I have been rather busy IRL. The fact that I had to take over work from a sick colleague and my need to maintain a social life and consumate a relationship have all taken their toll, which means less time to play and less time to write.

Still, I want to keep the ball rolling and I very much hope that this story can be concluded before February turns into March.

One may always hope.

Just in case you missed that link above, here it is: Engineering Peace - Part 6

1 Feb 2013

OOC Entry 71 - What makes a wormhole pilot Part 2

In the first part I have dealt mostly with the skills and character traits that one should ideally have as the basis for a career in Wormhole Space. In this part I want to go into the specifics about wormhole systems and how to decide which sort of home would be suitable for you.

Let me make one thing clear in the beginning though: This is not a technical guide to life in Wormhole Space - such documents exist and are much better than anything I could produce. I will introduce you to some at the end of this article.

What this piece here intends to do is to make it more clear to prospective wormhole settlers what they can expect in terms of gameplay and what will be expected of them in turn.

So let's get on with it.

Choosing your home in Anoikis

Getting in and out

You will most likely have heard that wormhole systems come in different classes ranging from 1 to 6. If not, then you know now ;)

The wormhole class is both an indicator of the difficulty level of the PVE sites you will find there but also determines which sort of connections you will have with the outside world.

Wormhole systems of classes 1 to 3 always have a static exit to Known Space (KSpace)

Having a static exit means that you are guaranteed to have a wormhole which always leads to a specific region of space. So in the case of C1-C3  you will have an exit to somewhere in highsec, lowsec or nullsec at any given time. Many also have a second static exit that will lead into another wormhole system. C1 and C3 wormholes are more likely to have only one static exit while C2 wormholes generally have two.

Of course you will have to find that exit first by scanning for it with probes. It does not appear on your overview like a gate. Once you scanned it you will have to bookmark it to be able to come back to it.  

Never forget that.

So if you are the kind of player who likes to get out and interact with KSpace a lot, you are best off in one of those lower class systems. Maybe you like to go rat in KSpace, or you are with a mining corp and you need regular trips to the market, or you want to have the opportunity to pop out of nowhere for PvP in lowsec or nullsec. There are wormholes with static KSpace exits for every taste.

Classes 4 to 6 always connect to other wormhole systems with their static exits.

This is the territory of the fully dedicated wormhole residents. If you want a way out to KSpace, count on having to scan several wormhole systems along the way. You can take it easy by living in a C4 wormhole that has a static C2 and therefore a high chance of a way out, or you can live in a C6 wormhole with a C5 static which means at least another three systems before you might have a chance to find an exit to KSpace. Sometimes you wont find one at all. You can find a route that is a dead end, or it keeps looping through Anoikis back onto itself.

Other than your static exit, wormhole systems can also have non-static entrances opening into them. Let's say you live in a C3 system with a static lowsec exit, but somewhere out there is a C5 system with a static C3. One day that C3 exit can lead to your home.

That means you can get visitors from unexpected corners of the galaxy, but on the other hand it also means a new route where you can find new opportunities.

What that implies is, that you regularly need to scan your home system to see whether a new opening has appeared. Failing to do so will possibly expose you to nasty surprises from neighbours you didn't know you had.

The last crucial thing to know is, that wormholes all have a limited lifetime. That can be as short as 16, 24 or 48 hours but has a variation of +/- 4 hours built in (if I remember it correctly). You can find more information about those time limits in the list linked at the end of this post here. If a wormhole expires and it was a static exit, a new one of the same kind will appear in your system, but again, it will remain unknown to you until you scan it down.

Boons and Banes

Living in a wormhole that has a static connection to the outside also means the outside always has a connection to you. Many people are sort-of apprehensive (not to say scared) when it comes to flying into Wormhole Space, but some lowsec and nullsec PvP corps are quite familiar with the territory and can make life difficult or exciting for you on a random basis.

It depends on you whether you find that a good thing or a potential threat. Choose your home accordingly.

In C4 wormholes and up, you will be facing other wormhole dwellers as your immediate potential neighbours. Like I outlined in my first part, they come in different flavours. Some of them are just autistic and risk averse PvE types, but the dedicated PvP players are among the most cunning and skilled ones you will encounter anywhere in EVE. Be prepared to meet them.

Mass limits - On the Verge of Collapse

Depending on a wormhole class, there is both a limit to the maximum mass a ship can have to jump through and a limit to the total mass of ships that can be jumped in.[1]

For example, a C1 wormhole is too small to even jump a Battleship in and it will take only a handful of battlecruiser jumps before it collapses. C6 wormholes, on the other end of the spectrum, have mass limits that allow capital ships and you can even jump a few of them through. C5 wormholes are the lowest class that can admit a capital ship, normally only two of them and then some support ships. To make things more complicated, the maximum total mass can vary by 20% though. So you might find a C5 that allows you to jump three capital ships through.

What that means is, that the class of wormhole you live in determines what kind of opposition you might face from outside forces. In a C1 your opponents can bring cruisers and battlecruisers. In C2 space an attack fleet can already include battleships and in C3 to C4 they can come in significant numbers. In C5 and C6 space your attackers can field capital ships against you.

Of course that door swings both ways. If you live in a higher class wormhole that connects to another one of similar class, you can bring more and heavier ships to a fight next door.

If you bring ship construction arrays for your POS, you can build ships in your wormhole (apart from supercaps which require sovereignty to build). That means you can potentially build capital ships inside a wormhole system, no matter which class. The residents of C1-C4 wormholes can give themselves quite an advantage in terms of defence that way. It means, though, that those ships will be there to stay or until they are destroyed. There is no way to ever get a capital ship out of a C1-C4 except as a salvaged wreck.

You may understand now why many wormhole players like to fly Tech3 ships a lot: Strategic Cruisers can be composed into pretty devastating fleets, and - being cruisers - they actually have really low mass.  So that makes it possible to bring powerful low-mass ships into an engagement anywhere in wormhole space without too much risk of collapsing your wormhole route back home.

Of course, this whole dynamic offers a nice extra option: You can intentionally collapse any wormhole you like. By jumping ships back and forth, you reduce their mass until they are gone. If it is a static wormhole you collapsed, another will turn up in the same system right away. So if you don't like a route, you can replace it with a new one. Collapsing non-static entrances, on the other hand, can rid you of pesky neighbours.

I will go into detail about this in a follow-up post which will be about strategy and tactics in wormhole operations.

System Effects - Pulsars Magnetars and more

A wormhole system can also have a specific environmental effect.[2] Not all wormholes have those, but the ones that do, influence the workings of your ship in ways that scale with the wormhole class. In lower class wormholes they will be rather minor, while in higher class wormholes they can amount to a very significant boost or turn out to be crippling for your ship.

Living in a wormhole with a system effect can be a double-edged sword: On one side it gives you an edge. Invaders will be forced to fight on your terms, and you can specialise your ship fittings to take advantage of the effect. On the other side you might have difficulties operating in other systems if you don't keep a set of ships around which are dedicated for roaming fleets.

Especially wormhole effects that influence the tanking abilities of ships like the Cataclysmic Variable, the Pulsar or the Wolf-Rayet may give rise to specialised home defence fleets which become rather less effective in any other environment. 

Generally speaking, all wormhole systems with special environmental effects have something going for them. The possible exception is the Black Hole. Those should be avoided as a home, and if you look at the effects you will see why. In more than two years time I have seen only one Black Hole system with a POS in it, and that was a pure mining operation. In a way it does have that one advantage: Nobody wants to live in a Black Hole and they are horrible to have fights in. Even PVE is painful. If you see a way to make this work for you, good luck.

So what's next

Originally I naively thought I can get this done in two parts, but after filling more than three pages with this post here already, I came to the conclusion that I will have to make that article into a multi-part essay. The good news is, the next part is already half written, so you wont have to wait that long for it.

What I will address in that next part is how to set up your POS and which ships you can need in your new home. Also I want to address some wormhole specific tactics in more detail, most importantly hole closing and how wormhole exits work in a PVP context.

If I think about it, that may actually become a fourth instalment.

In any case, if you are still with me, I hope I was able to offer something for you as a prospective wormhole explorer, and if I still haven't detracted you from ever coming to live in the Anoikis cluster, I hope you will return to this blog for the next part.


[1] You can find a list of wormholes, their lifetimes and their mass limits on this very helpful list
[2] There is a comprehensive list of wormhole system effects on Evelopedia