This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ prespective to discuss the impact of the Inferno 1.3.2 Factional Warfare changes.
Back on October 23rd the Inferno 1.3.2 patch delivered a surprise shake-up of the Factional Warfare mechanics aimed squarely at neutering the worst of the LP farming practices. It was also intended to act as a stop-gap measure to address some of the frustrations of the Inferno system that were frustrating the ‘genuine’ FW players who were trying to fight an actual war rather than just grinding out LP.
The day after the patch hit, I took a look at the state of play in the warzone and what the changes might mean for the balance of power in the Amarr-Minmatar warzone. The Amarr had ‘lucked out’ (I assume ofc that CCP are in fact not biased towards either side for some reason, but simply timed the patch based on when the features were ready) and were holding 18 Minmatar systems in deeply contested state for maximum LP farming. This meant that thety were in an excellent position to capitalise on the changes, flip a whole bunch of systems and reap the new rewards.
So nearly 2 weeks later, this is how the warzone breaks down right now.
Minmatar held systems: 46
Minmatar systems in ‘vulnerable’ status: 0
Minmatar ‘Lost’ status systems: 0
And for the Amarr?
Amarr held systems: 24
Amarr systems in ‘vulnerable’ status: 0
Amarr ‘Lost’ status: 0
What appears to be happening now is that the warzone is stabilising. There was a prediction going around that the Retribution changes would lead to a more static warzone, and from how things look today that may prove to be correct. Only two systems are presently over 50% contested, one belonging to each side.
But what does all of this mean? Who is coming out ahead and does it change anything? Well, it took the best part of a week but the Minmatar hit tier 4 over the weekend following the Tuesday patch. But by then the Amarr had also, after a slow start, achieved tier 2. Since then, for the past week, the control tiers have looked almost exactly like this:
Note that the Minmatar are less than 1% inside the tier 4 boundary. That number has hardly budged in a week. It is said that EVE players are masters of min-maxing, I’d say we are seeing that in action on a macro scale. The minimum amount of LP is being expended to keep the Minnies inside the tier 4 boundary without wasting it on an unnecessarily large buffer.
The Amarr on the other hand are hovering several percentage points into tier 2. What is interesting to see is that while all Minmatar systems have been upgraded (with most to level 5), none of the Amarr systems are currently upgraded at all. Their tier 2 ranking is at this point earned purely off the back of systems controlled, but not at all on upgrades. Two weeks ago the Amarr held 21 systems, now they hold 24; just enough to achieve tier 2.
That doesn’t sound like much, does it? The Minmatar tier 4 grants a 150% bonus to the rate that LP’s are earned. The Amarr tier 2 is simply a ‘standard’ LP reward rate. Tier 1 is a 50% reduction, should the Amarr get beaten back down to it. So the Minmatar won the patch, right?
I don’t think they did. Under the new system the LP store has reverted to fixed pricing with costs set in stone at the pre-Inferno price level, briefly known as tier 3. Under Inferno, moving up or down a tier would decrease or increase prices by a factor of 4 for each tier. Tier 5 was 8 times cheaper than tier 3. Tier 1 was 8 times more expensive than tier 3. Tier 1 was therefore sixteen times more expensive than tier 5! As the Amarr struggled to reach tier 3 a lot of the time, their LP was next to worthless.
Under the new system, and at tier 2, the prices have become sane while the rate of LP earning has so far been unaffected. Access to reasonable rewards is now a regular occurrence making the underdogs a much more economically competitive prospect. The Minmatar on the other hand have said their last goodbyes to tier 5 pricing. For my money, the Amarr have clearly benefited the most from the latest round of changes and we are starting to see a levelling of the playing field.
If CCP choose to tackle the issues concerning the geography of the warzone then the Amarr will find their fortunes substantially improved by the Retribution development cycle. Oh and in case you are wondering, yes, I do think that CCP should do something about the Metropolis region choke points. A more fluid and balanced war front would be a good thing to see.