It looks like I am fashionably late to the discussion regarding the much anticipated sovereignty revamp. To be fair, I don’t have much of a stake in these changes, other than hoping for a system that promotes a healthy game. As far as the specific mechanics go, my thoughts are neutral. After reading through the Dev Blog I will admit the way this new system is being piggy-backed onto the current Dominion mechanics left me feeling underwhelmed. The fact that we the players will still be talking about TCUs and IHUBs and station flipping after June was disappointing, if only on a psychological level.
That said, I think the system should be implemented as-is, possibly with a few tweaks. I’ve seen a lot of good arguments praising the current design and no solid counter arguments other than the rampant speculating and alarm-ism that come from trolls or sincere players cursed with an irritating personality. Something needs to shake the game up and I think with these new mechanics CCP will hit the right note for nullsec warfare and space conquest, even though it’s not perfect. No system will be perfect and what is currently outlined looks like a solid foundation to build off of. So I say let’s see how the chips fall after June and wait for the carrots in sov space to be added.
The one mechanic that really caught my eye was the 48 hour freeport mode that stations will switch to if a defender loses a “round” of sov warfare. Not everyone is thrilled with this mechanic and it’s understandable why. Stations will now present a thorn in the side of anyone holding space, particularly large swathes of it. Every single one is a possible foothold for an attacker, and source of third party harassment, during the freeport status and possible battle following the 48 hour window. This, combined with the vulnerability of station services to being offlined 23/7, means that stations are now a constant juicy target for attackers and are no longer as secure a staging point for alliances or coalitions. They are still very important but I do hope these new mechanics are a first step toward the option to destroy them outright.
Third Party Logistics
What the freeport mechanic got me thinking about was something that I’ve wanted in EVE for a while now; a meaningful way to participate in nullsec markets as a third party. While I don’t believe every station should be a mandatory freeport and respect an alliance’s desire to be as self sufficient as possible, relying on their own members, I’ve always wanted a viable way to set up shop in hostile space. A POS module or mechanic that allows market functionality in a system would be cool. Hell, I’d even save up for a Titan if I could anchor it and people could dock and buy things from the cargo bay. If a third party in an area’s market is seen as a threat and driven off, fair enough. If it’s tolerated, even better. Perhaps a third party market could even change the landscape of a region, becoming a player seeded resource that is a potential target for invaders wanting to destabilize a region.
A battle raging around a small entity’s market might be too idealistic but I can’t help getting excited about the potential. In fact, the freeport mode is a small step in that direction. Booster sales are currently done in NPC stations via the contract system. After June hits, it will be viable to run contracts to stations during their freeport countdown, for attackers or defenders. It probably won’t happen often but since the release of Thera, I can attest to the fact that running boosters into a hostile, active system with a dockable station is both interesting gameplay and worth the effort. If the option is now available to offer a courier service into the heart of a nullsec battleground, that alone makes me excited for June.