2014-02-04

The Funny Thing About the Eternal War

I've been participating in Faction Warfare in Eve for awhile now. Certainly not as long as some, but over a year and a half, at least.

And maybe I'm not so swift on the uptake. Maybe I just don't see things that are staring right at me, but lately? Lately, I've noticed some pretty odd things.

When I left our wormhole to join faction warfare, things worked differently in terms of loyalty points and payouts. Everyone earned the same LP payments no matter what side you were on, but what those points were worth changed, moving up and down on a sliding scale. It didn't take long for the players to figure out that the thing to do was collect a big stash of points and then - if you were able - push that slider all the way to the most profitable end of the scale and cash out.

It became a thing. For the Minmatar in particular, "pushing to Tier 5" was a regular, pretty much bi-weekly event, and damn near the only thing anyone talked about on the militia comm channel.

"When's the next t5 push?"

God I got sick of seeing that.

CCP changed things up when it became glaringly obvious that the system was broken and having serious detrimental effects on the economy.

The way things work now, Loyalty Points are always worth the same amount, but you get paid more per militia-related task if your side in the war controls more of the war zone. Thus, was the balance somewhat restored; thus was the need for consistent war zone control reinforced; thus was the pendulum of the eternal war given another not-so-subtle shove.

With me so far? Okay.


A fair amount of time - I'm going to say about six months, but it may have been more like three - went by with the war zones basically acting the way you'd expect. The guys with guns would decide to go on the offensive, and systems would fall (or not) and war zone control would rise (or not). Eventually, boredom and/or inattention would set in for whoever was on top at the moment (or, in one memorable stretch, both sides would hit a mutually beneficial middle ground), and the other guys would swing things their direction for awhile.

Then a funny thing happened.

All of a sudden, without any sort of warning from spies or rumors from blogs, one of the war zones flipped, and flipped hard. And it stayed flipped for a good long time, despite fairly concentrated efforts to get it to flip back. The guys benefiting from the flip crowed a bit, profited a bit more than that, and that was that.

Then it flipped back.

Now this... this was a bit stranger. See, I was on the side of the war that benefited from that "flip back" and... I didn't hear a peep about it happening. 

There was no call to arms. No shouts for assistance or manpower. Nothing. On Monday, things we as bad as they had ever been, and by Friday we were at tier 4. All of which happened during time zones when a lot of active pilots were at work.

Everyone kind of collectively scratched their heads, but hey... time to make some Loyalty Points, right? Why complain?

And, over the last week or so, the war zone has flipped back.

Kind of.

This time, things look more than a little odd. 

The vast majority of Minmatar-held systems are sitting at either vulnerable or 99.9% contested. But... they aren't getting flipped (which requires a fleet of ships fly out to these systems and shoot the infrastructure hub for 20 or 30 minutes).

It's almost as if... bear with me on this... it's almost as if there's some group out there that, having made as much as they can off one faction's LP, wants that faction to 'go fallow' (to use - appropriately - a farming term) and has flipped a switch to do all the stuff necessary to flip the money-printing-machine on for the other faction... 

... but no one told the guys on that side of the war to go out and - you know - use their guns to flip the systems.

I mean, outside of one or two systems, the groups with whom I am familiar - the actual combatants on the Amarr side of the war - don't seem to care that those systems are vulnerable.

It's almost as if they had nothing to do with it, and don't have either the interest or, dare I say, the net manpower to flip all those systems, because they aren't the guys who set them up to fall in the first place. Sort of what happened the last time things flipped in our favor, but more so.

I mean, everyone knows there are farmers that just run the system to earn LP, right?

But everyone assumes that it works like this:

  • One faction gains the advantage.
  • Farmers switch sides.
  • Other faction gains the advantage.
  • Farmers switch sides.
Maybe it used to work that way, and it doesn't anymore.

Maybe the farmers realized it was more efficient to take control of which side of the scale was tipped.

Maybe we work for them now.

Maybe we don't. Maybe they've gotten to the point where they don't need the guys with guns at all.

Hmm.

You know what I don't see out in the war zone?

I don't see the plex-capturing pilots. There aren't more than a handful out there - nowhere near the numbers you'd need to drive so many systems to vulnerable so fast. At least, they aren't out there during US/UK active time zones.

Maybe... some other time zone? Maybe.

Maybe the groups "fighting" the war actually have somewhere close to zero percent influence on the state of the war zones. (At least in some cases because they're too busy shooting at each other.) Maybe the guys who figured out how to utterly game the old system figured out to game the new one, and were smart enough to keep it quiet this time.

Maybe the rest of us are just kids playing cops and robbers along the aisles that run between banks of humming machinery none of us either influence or understand.

Maybe. 

Maybe.
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