Do you remember when you first started playing Eve? You didn’t really quite grasp what the game was fully about and you felt like simply warping from station to a planet was a major endeavor. The sight of watching your ship enter the warp tunnel immersed you right into the feeling of childhood nostalgia coupled with the potential future that awaited you. Among some of those early feelings and ideas, those of the pirate inclination, I’m sure had a very fun but simple thought: the idea of catching a big fat hauler and blowing it up with your friends and enjoying the spoils. Perhaps you thought of the way you could set up such an ambush, and you may have researched potential trade routes to set up such an ambush. To your disappointment, nothing of the sort really exists in the game and at best you can do gimmicky suicide ganking in highsec. It just doesn’t quite capture that feeling or concept you were looking for. There are no real trade routes or even that many bottle necks on which to set up your pirate group in the hopes of “catching that big fish.” Instead, any real logistics are done with jump freighters, which are essentially immune to any danger. Light a cyno, jump to a citadel, dock. Rinse and repeat. The only way to really affect that is to hit structures and with the disgustingly easy proliferation of citadels, most can hardly stomach the idea. But what can be done? What’s the solution to make the above dream a reality without totally crippling the capabilities of the increasingly frustrated jump freighter pilots reading this?
The very basic formula is this: Get rid of the jump capabilities of jump freighters and provide them with the defensive capabilities required for gate transport. Similar mechanics that are used to make Rorquals “content generators” (although poorly designed, as I noted in a previous article) could be used for the jumpless JFs I’ll be dubbing “Force Freighters.”
What kind of capabilities and attributes would these new Force Freighters have that would make it possible for them to punch through several ambushes? High resists and natural buffers to shield or armor depending on the Force Freighter. Minmatar and Caldari will obviously be shield and Amarr and Gallente will be armor. They would all have high defensive stats but would gain no bonuses from extenders or plates. This is because the requirement to jump from gate to gate would favor the shield Force Freighters as the armor ones would require plates to compete with the tank of the shield FFs. This way both of them have buffer and resists and the slots can be used for other fun defensive measures. At the end of the day, the goal is to make this fun for both attacker and hauler.
All Force Freighters would have bonuses to local repair modules and warp strength bonuses similar to the Deep Space Transport Haulers, such as the Occator. This ensures that it would require more than just a single interceptor to catch these things and would require a medium to large sized fleet to actually kill a Force Freighter. Furthermore, depending on the race of the ship, they could have AoE EWAR effects against attacking ships similar to the AoE EWAR effects supers have. AoE ECM to break locks and provide a way to escape. AoE Damps to lower lock range and speed. AoE Targeting Disruptors to mitigate the range and damage application of attackers. AoE Webs to slow down the enemies pursuing the hauler as you burn toward the gate. There are numerous examples of how this could be combined with multiple Force Freighters and an escort fleet to ensure the defenders have a way to get their precious supplies back to their space.
Lastly, Force Freighters could fit weaponry in the highslots at the expense of cargo space, just like the old naval haulers of centuries ago. More cannons means more defense but less cargo room. You could customize your Force Freighter to do some damage on the way of escaping or focusing completely on being as efficient at hauling as possible.
One key thing I want to underline is that the Force Freighter’s EWAR, weaponry and whatever other capabilities would only work on enemies that have it locked and have aggressed. This way, Force Freighters do not become massive combat platforms in conventional fights. They can harm no one unless harmed first.
Other potential ideas are modules making the Force Freighters nullified with some penalty, some kind of local 100 KM AoE Cyno Jammer module, Doomsday immunity or even defensive fighters the Force Freighters could launch.
To be clear, this wouldn’t be the freighter escort fleets of long ago where you are protecting a more or less defenseless paper thin vessel. This would be a defensive behemoth rivaling the current FAXes with multiple methods to improve their survivability. They would require extensive strength of arms and planning to bring down. Would it be more “work?” Well no… because it would be a content creator. Work consists of things you don’t enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing it, it’s content. It would encourage teamplay from everyone. Actual trade lanes people would have to secure would develop rather than the current system where Jump Freighters essentially have zero risk jumping from citadel to citadel. There would actually be skill in hauling and getting your product to and from market. If we just want “easy and convenient,” why not just make what you order magically appear in your stations right now? There’s no content there just like there’s no content in the current JF mechanic. The Force Freighter mechanic, although requiring further tweaking, will make that initial dream many of us had when we first started playing a reality.