Saturday, 15 March 2014

The effects of W-space system characteristics on PvP Meta

In the previous post I spent some time addressing how the PvP Meta is affected by the difference between known space (K-space) gates and wormhole space (W-space) wormhole links. In this post I'll be looking at how fleet compositions and ship selections are also guided by the differences between K and W-space systems.

Local Chat

The Local chat channel allows pilots in the same system to talk to one another without having any prior knowledge of each other. In known space, any pilot who enters a system instantly joins the local chat channel and has their name and portrait displayed, making the local chat channel one of the most effective intelligence gathering mechanisms available.

In wormhole space, however, pilots do not have their name and portrait displayed when they enter the local chat channel - the information only becomes visible if they send any text via the local channel. The knock on effect of this is that in wormhole space there is no way of knowing for certain how many pilots, if any, are in the system with you, or if any pilots have just entered the system.

The removal of intelligence that is freely available in k-space has are a number of knock on effects that changes combat in w-space significantly; and those knock on effects have knock on effects themselves.

The first effect is that cloaking is significantly more effective. In k-space a cloaking device hides the type of the ship that you are flying and your precise location within a system. In w-space, as there is no local, the cloaking device completely hides your presence in addition to hiding your ship type and precise location. This means that a cloaked fleet wields a massive information advantage over an uncloaked fleet - not only is the exact disposition and composition of the enemy force unknown but so is even more general intelligence about how many of them there are or which pilots are in the force. As cloaking is such a powerful strategic ability in wormhole space, cloaks are fit to ships with much greater frequency. Significant numbers of ordinary ships have non-covert cloaks fit, despite their drawbacks of not allowing you to warp while cloaked or move at any significant speed. Because of this there is an additional driver for pilots to fit ships that are prepared for close range combat; if you are not, there is a very good chance that someone who is will decloak within a handful of kilometers of your ship and ruin your day.

The second effect is the acceptance of risk - pilots living in wormhole space simply never know if a person, or ten people, or thirty people are all sat in the system they have just entered, or even the system they call their home. That is part and parcel of living in w-space, and if pilots fail to adjust to it, they inevitably end up leaving for the perceived relative safety of k-space.

The third effect is tied in closely to the second - paranoia. Paranoia is a mark of the EVE pilot in general; every deal is a scam, every target is bait, every conversation is someone trying to wheedle them out of their hard earned ISK. Acceptance of increased risk in wormhole space does not mean that pilots don't do anything about it. If a pilot is playing 'to win', risk can be mitigated by gathering intelligence about what to expect in a given system. Although a great deal of information is not as easily accessible in wormhole space, that does not mean that it isn't possible to find out quite a lot about the inhabitants of a system if some time is spent on it. It can be non-trivial to identify what corporation calls a given wormhole home, but if time is taken to look through all the information sources available, a picture of what you are likely to run into can be formed. A later post on The Excession will be dedicated to scouting and intelligence gathering in wormhole systems.

No Dockable Stations

The lack of any NPC stations in w-space is similar to the situation when in hostile sovereign null-security space. The only "safety" that is available in w-space is when inside your own POS force-field - this is an additional driver to fly ships with cloaking devices fitted - as you can safely go AFK should you need to. The lack of NPC stations also means that restocking ammunition and repairing ships when away from your home base is not as viable.

Scanning Requirements

Every place of note in wormhole space needs to be found via the discovery scanner or launching probes. Probes are needed to find Gas, Relic and Data sites, and other wormhole links, and so any ship that is solo in a wormhole will need to have a probe launcher fit in it's high slots.

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