I’ve been meaning for a long time to write a full-on post about the differences in combat between lowsec and wormholes, as someone who moved from the former to the latter. I never quite got around to it. But now there’s a more compelling reason to give you a mini-primer on one of the key differences between k-space combat and w-space combat.
In k-space, you have gates. When you jump through a gate, you reappear 15Km off the gate in some random direction. This means with a small gate you could be as far as 30Km from the person you are chasing or flying with. In the case of big gates, it could be even farther. With those kind of distances, what makes the most sense in most cases is that you want to be fast – either to get back to the gate or to tackle something or to warp off. K-space small gang combat outside of places like Faction War plexes heavily favors shield-tanked kiters. If you shot someone, you couldn’t jump, so your only option was to bail out as fast as possible. When I lived in Lowsec and NPC Null, I had the skills to fit a T2 armor tank, but I never flew one. All shield unless the FC demanded armor … and almost every time we ran armor we couldn’t get tackle or maintain it, because your targets always flew shield.
Then I moved into a wormhole, and got the slow sad head-shake for my great shield ship flying skills. No one in wormholes flies shield ships, you see, unless you live in a Pulsar or are going to go fly a LOLfleet in k-space. All armor, all the time. Why? Because wormholes are not gates. Wormholes, you see, drop you less than 5Km from the hole. They have almost zero object radius so in most cases you will be no more than 10Km from your friends and enemies. HIC bubble goes up, and you are most certainly not going to be flying away. It’s either back through the wormhole or guns out, preferably short-range, high-DPS guns. You can also jump through the hole fully agressed … once each way. Out, back. And then you’re stuck for 4-5 minutes – it’s called polarization. Usually in a bubble. So plan it well.
All this taken together means if you encounter an enemy on a hole, you’re almost certain of a fight – whether you want one or not – unlike a gate in k-space. It’s one of the things wormholers love about w-space. But the key to the whole thing is being able to tackle and lock the trap to force either a fight or polarization – either with an interceptor or a HIC in most cases. A HIC bubble reaches out 16-24Km from the ship.
So over the weekend a few wormhole pilots were messing around on the Singularity (SiSi) and discovered that the base mechanics of the wormhole jump (everyone shows up 10Km or (usually) less from each other) were no longer working. In fact, capitals jumped were 40Km from the hole! To make matters worse, after the non-answers (don’t panic, guys, there’s a devblog coming) that came on that forum thread, more wormhole dwellers tested on Sisi and found that polarization had been shut off on inter-region wormholes.
People were shocked at the venom this prompted from the wormhole community – between the two forum threads it hit rabid pitch. The above should explain why. Nothing discovered from the list of wanted items, instead a direct push of the wormhole meta to be more like k-space. Thankfully, the polarization item was later determined to be a bug, but by then the trust was on shaky ground.
Even taken alone, the large-distance projection of capitals and battleships destroys the entire “everyone materializes within brawl range” meta. If the whole game was like that, it might be understandable to want to change it. But if you want that sort of long-distance behavior, you can go kite in k-space. What it said to the wormhole community was: “Hey, good news guys! You get to have gate combat like k-space! Yay!” and the community none-too-gently sent a reminder that most people in w-space left because they weren’t enjoying the k-space meta. The only things that would have been worse would have been an announcement that POS now had docking ability, bringing the loathed docking games to w-space, or that the sov null guys were getting permanent wormhole stabilizers to fly in supercaps and wrecking balls.
To make matters worse, it forces choices that discourage fights, rather than encouraging them. To understand this, you need to understand not only the brawl mechanics above, but also a phenomenon that has two different names based on their intent. “Critting” generally refers to intentionally collapsing or forcing to critical your static wormhole in a defensive posture – usually either to block enemy entrance during vulnerable farming time or to lock out an overwhelming threat. “Ragerolling” generally refers to intentionally collapsing because your chain sucks and you want to try another one to look for PVP, and if you get a garbage chain, rolling again and again until you find a fight.
Today, the easiest way to Crit or Rageroll is to pass capital ships through the hole. Two capital passes and an Orca pass and even the largest holes generally collapse. It is easy for most w-space groups to muster this. This encourages Ragerolling, because it makes it easy to get another hole, and another. Flinging the capitals out to 40Km slows that down, and puts the capital ship at risk. So what will likely happen? Instead, the larger groups will bring a horde of battleships to accomplish the same task, but the little guys will be SOL, POS up and log off until tomorrow.
The problem that Fozzie & co. were likely trying to solve is the problem of Critting – the defensive variety. It allows farming in near-safety unless you get the unlucky new hole showing up midway through. So CCP wanted to give people a way to catch that capital. The problem is that it will do no such thing. A capital flung that far will either escape or have to slowboat back – and so what will happen is that they will not bring it at all, and will resort to alternate methods. And then the most fun fights in w-space simply won’t happen any more. The caps will stay home. The big boys will still Crit with battleships, and the little guys will get ganked.
The good news is that CCP Fozzie’s Hyperion w-space devblog came out today, possibly spurred on by the foaming of the w-space community. And it has lots of good stuff in it (I’ll touch on that stuff in the next post). Sadly, the mass-projection item is still there. It’s less terrible, but not gone.
Back to the HIC bubble. 16-24Km radius. A HIC can make itself ridiculously low-mass, so it will generally still be right on the hole. A carrier or dreadnaught now rematerializes at 19Km. Yes, this is within the HIC bubble, so the trapper will be OK so long as there is a well-skilled HIC pilot (T2 bubbles are rare, so this really still is too far) but so far out that the jumping capital pilots will generally not take the risk. It’s still too far for both parties. Simply put, the approach does not address the design goal of putting caps at risk, if that is in fact a goal – it is more risky today just because the caps will be flown in the first place. Under the proposed Hyperion changes, the caps will stay home.
Reduce capitals, Orcas and battleships to a 10Km distance, leave the others the same as Fozzie proposes, and it could still work. But then it adds effectively nothing. So why do it?
Don’t. It ain’t broke, stop fixing it.
And the new thread on the topic shows broad agreement with me on this one. I encourage all w-space pilots to leave a polite and ideally a specific “kill this idea” response in that thread.
Next post we’ll talk about the rest of Fozzie’s devblog which, unlike the mass ejector proposal, has a lot of w-space goodness (as well as a few other concerns worthy of note).