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Capital Systems & Content: Usage-Based Sov Abuse

May 3, 2020

By Twilight Winter

When CCP first introduced the Aegis sovereignty mechanics (colloquially known as “Fozzie sov”), its biggest selling point was that it would create a usage-based sovereignty system where alliances would need to use — by ratting and mining — their systems in order to strengthen their claim over those systems.

The exception to the rule

There would be one exception to the rule of constant system maintenance via ratting and mining, the alliance Capital, which would instead be designated as a staging system and gain an automatic boost to their ADM. I’ll allow CCP themselves to explain why they introduced this mechanic:

This feature is designed specifically to address the fact that major staging systems are often singularly unsuitable locations for mining or ratting. These systems tend to be some of the busiest in Nullsec space, with many pilots docked and in space, very active markets and strong industrial operations. However they also tend to attract too much attention to make excellent PVE systems, and our first generation Activity Defense Multiplier system will not include contributions from typical capital system activity such as trading and manufacturing. We hope to work towards including these factors in future iterations of the Activity Defense Multiplier mechanic, but in the meantime we need an effective way for alliances to defend their staging systems.

CCP Fozzie, CCP Summer 2015 Sovereignty Update

Other than the failure to ever include trade and manufacture into the sovereignty system, this justification makes sense. The thought of trying to rat and mine at any scale in 1DQ1, R1O, or our own coalition staging system, 9UY, would be quite a terrifying prospect.

Use or abuse?

Unfortunately, as with any mechanic designed to create a legitimate benefit, the Capital mechanic is open to abuse, and nowhere has it been abused more than in my home region of Providence.

Northeastern Providence with Capitols marked

Above is a map of northeastern Providence, with each Capital system designated by a star — systems marked with a golden star belong to Provi-bloc, and those marked with a red star belong to the Rekking Crew.

How many of these systems accurately match CCP Fozzie’s description of a highly-trafficked, dangerous system? One, as it turns out.

How many are systems which actually serve as staging systems where fleets form and large numbers of players are frequently seen in local? Two: 9UY4-H, the coalition staging system of Provi-bloc, and Y-MPWL, the coalition staging system of Rekking Crew.

The other Capitals belong to a range of alliances from entities with an active zKillboard presence and major holdings and activity in their own space to obvious alt alliances with little or no activity in the region (or at all). However, all uses along the spectrum have no purpose other than to reduce the effort required to maintain the space and to tank vulnerability windows deeper into the holding coalition’s favorable timezone.

Obviously, I don’t blame RC for using a broken game mechanic. Using game mechanics to your advantage is the normal thing to do.

Why is it bad?

The main purpose of FozzieSov was to move from a system which encouraged alliances to hold space for a long period of time — some of which is still preserved by the existence of the Strategic Index — to a system where alliances had to be present, active, and of course potentially open to non-consensual PvP, within their home regions.

NPC kills in northeastern Providence

When thirteen out of twenty systems, and all but three of Rekking Crew’s systems, in northeastern Providence are set as Capital systems, it creates systems which have very little day-to-day activity and can only be contested by alarm clocking deep into a hostile timezone or calling in third parties to do it.

You may notice that I’ve focused almost entirely on northeastern Providence, rather than the region as a whole. Whilst the rest of the region — where Rekking Crew holds much less space — does have a few more Capital systems, it is much less hotly contested and thus the mechanic is far less widely abused.

If CCP want a system which promotes more explosions, more big fights, and more ability to contest hostile systems (and I sure do), then fixing this issue needs to be a priority.

How can it be fixed?

I believe that the easiest way to fix the system would be to reintroduce an old system from the POS sov era: constellation sovereignty. Unless an alliance controls an entire constellation, they are unable to designate a Capital system, and as soon as they lose control of a system within that constellation, they lose their Capital bonus.

The constellations of Providence.

If CCP would prefer to focus on coalitions rather than alliances, or to provide a less all-or-nothing option, the constellation Capital could be a voting system where each system within a constellation gets a single vote within the Corporation control panel, and the Capital system for the constellation is determined by highest number of votes.

Alternatively, Fozzie’s suggestion to include manufacturing (and why not science and refining, all of which already have indexes) and market trading in the system index could be utilized as a way to delete Capital systems altogether, though this would need a lot more work to be properly balanced.

Fixing this would create more opportunities for hunting in hostile space, more dynamic war mechanics, and lessen the negative effects of timezone tanking which discourages alliances from actually risking their assets on the battlefield.

Agree? Disagree? Have a better idea to fix Capital systems? Sound off in the comments.