X up For Victory!!
Whilst we wait for what ever news might spill over from the great “GDC love in” I’m going to return to the subject of massed fleet warfare – really because it comes right off the back of the recently published CSM IV meeting minutes. I thought to start we might look at two examples of how the Sovereignty system as it currently stands might be creating emergent behaviour in terms of strategic thinking in EVE.
First off comes this comment from Luminous Rex on his blog a Scout’s Domain:
“With D-GTMI and 9UY4-H firmly in the hands of the -A- coalition they appeared to take a break from the fighting. This week though they returned to Providence with renewed vigor. Their strategy appears to be one of isolation, attrition and eventual invasion. The -A- coalition have attacked in both Y-MPWL and G-5EN2. Additionally SYS-K attacked R3-K7K and early Sunday 28 Feb 10 (game time) they (SYS-K) jumped a titan + capital fleet in. By doing so they’ve essentially cut off the logistics pipeline from Domain and Tash-Murkon”.
I really enjoy Rex’s posts and if you have any interest at all in the broader philosophies of warfare within EVE Online you should read what he has to say. Now compare and contrast Mandrill’s (I am Keith Neilson blogger) comments to an earlier post of mine on the lack of small scale objectives and gangs:
“The reason this kind of thing doesn’t happen basically boils down to 0.0 warfare as it currently stands being a contest to see who can bring the biggest fleet. I’m pretty certain that if any of the big alliances came under assault (or were led to believe they were under assault) on multiple fronts and from multiple directions you would see a lot of smaller fleets set up for fast response times across wide regions of space.
As things stand though I honestly don’t believe that any of the big alliances have the strategic flexibilty (logistically and mentally) to run such an operation”.
There are some close parallels in both comments here I think you’ll agree, which suggests that Mandrill’s correct in the assumption that multiple fronts can emerge, and (I think he’ll forgive me for saying) that this behaviour is already becoming a reality!
Ok, back to Rex again and a previous blog where he reveals his EVE Space and tellingly this comment:
“The colored strips around the monitor are the little ‘flag arrows’ you use to point out signature lines on documents. I write the names of my scouts on them and then move them around the Ombey map. Especially useful when I’m managing 20+ scouts during a Large Fleet Engagement”.
Why is this so interesting? Well I think it demonstrates two factors: firstly that fleet commanders are trying to think in a strategic manner in order to secure victory. Rex is attempting to co-ordinate a far wider battle than just two adjoining solar systems – indeed to manage more than just a ‘big fleet vs big fleet’ approach. Secondly its worth noting that he’s doing so with……some bits of paper!?
Which pretty much brings us back to Mandrill’s comment that fleet commanders dont “have the strategic flexibilty (logistically and mentally) to run such an operation”.
I’d argue they do have the mental capacity (well some of them anyway) to think along such lines. What they clearly lack are the means. Specifically what is not readily available to the modern fleet commander is a interface in game that allows more transparent command and control over a wide strategic area. The current universe map is wholly unsuited to this complex task. Fleet commanders (and their sub-ordinates) cannot edit comments, sketch out battle plans or track the movement of their own forces (let alone those of the enemy) on the universe map. It’s small wonder then that most FC’s would rather opt for massing their forces rather then divide them with all the command and control problems that entails. In this way ‘blobs’ or very large fleets are encouraged as a tactic by simple merit of being simpler to control (and therefore less risky).
Now I am confident that there are FCs who either have a good spatial memory for directing fleets or those that are covering their monitors and map books in sticky notes, but they’re probably not the norm. When Incarna was first mooted there was some excitement over the possibility of Corporate Offices having ‘planning rooms’ with interactive universe ‘maps’ and my fingers are certainly crossed that this becomes a reality. The other alternative is that we see some sort of strategic tool developed by the community – although quite how that would work is difficult to imagine unless the API reveals much more information than is currently available.
Sadly whilst the universe map languishes in the past we are likely to gain only fleeting glimpses of what can be achieved through strategic thinking. Meanwhile for the uneducated the best, and only option, will be to blob up for victory.