aPOCOlypse

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the addition of Player-owned Customs Offices to high sec in the upcoming Rubicon expansion.

Atlanins III

As featured in yesterday’s announcement of the winter Rubicon expansion, we now know that CCP will be going ahead with turning over control of high sec customs offices into the hands of players.  This was no real surprise as the idea has been kicking around ever since POCO’s were introduced for the rest of New Eden.  It is a very simple thing for CCP to implement as the coding is already in place.  It has really just been a question of ‘when’ to do it and perhaps more importantly ‘should we?’.

Last night within an hour of the announcement show finishing I happened upon the first doom and gloom prediction; that high sec POCO’s just mean that the large null sec alliances will descend upon high sec and take over all the planets.  Maybe for dreams of vast profit, perhaps for the power, or maybe to reap the epic tears just because they can.

But can they?  And will they? The likes of Goonswarm and the CFC revel in such things, right?  Well yes they do, but I’m not so convinced.

Come Rubicon, all customs offices in high sec will become destructible.  Players will be able to blow them up without incurring any sec status penalties and they will continue to function as they do now until someone does this.  It is reasonable to assume that there will be an immediate land rush as thousands of players race to knock down the NPC offices and drop down their own POCO on the most desirable of worlds.  Here is the first hurdle.

Once that is done, in order for another group of players to take it off them it will require a war dec to be issued, the POCO to be knocked into a reinforced cycle and then finished off in a second attack.  Then replaced with another POCO.  If you are not the first player/corp/alliance to drop a POCO then the job gets harder.  You have to attack at least twice and pay for a war dec in addition to paying for your POCO.

In order to efficiently seize a monopoly over all high sec, you would have to act extremely quickly and efficiently, knocking out as many NPC customs offices as possible as quickly as possible.  Before someone else gets there first.

I have already come across examples of conventional wisdom that underline the key advantage of the null sec powers over high sec.  Firstly, the man power of large alliances and their coalitions.  Secondly, the fact that a fleet of Dreadnaughts and Supercarriers will make short work of a mere POCO!

Lets deal with the latter point first.  Yes, null sec coalitions such have the CFC have huge and impressive capital fleets able to knock over even Outpost stations in a matter of minutes with ease, the HP of a mere POCO is but nothing by comparison!  But we are talking about high sec POCO’s here guys.  You can’t jump capitals into high sec so that is already off the table.  You want to kill a high sec POCO?  You have to use sub caps, and that turns a trivial fly swat of a structure shoot into something more substantial.  You need a gang of high DPS ships to do this quickly.

But that’s ok, CFC have lots of dudes right?  Again, yes they do.  And they have a proven track record of romping into high sec en-mass for a weekend of Burn Jita lockdown tear-milking.  I do not doubt their ability to get a gang together and go knock over a slew of POCO’s for a few days, it would not be hard and they would keep it up as long as the tears keep coming and it stays fun.

Thing is, I just really don’t think its sustainable.  After a few days most pilots will grow bored of shooting structure after structure and their collective attention will wander.  From a quick search, it seems there are 66-67,000 planets in New Eden, even if only a tenth of them are in high sec then the CFC needs to take over about 6,700 POCO’s.  That means that the majority of the Goons nearly 11,000 characters (don’t forget all the alts) would have to destroy a POCO each single-handed in a sub capital to do it.

How many of those members do you think are active and will feel motivated enough to travel to high sec to take part?  50%?  More? less?  Its a big ask however optimistic you are.  Sure the CFC is not Goonswarm alone, but you still need a great many people to make it happen, and it won’t be over in a weekend.  Particularly as they won’t be the only people out there doing it.  And for every planet they clear, they need a POCO to install.

I haven’t looked at the going rate lately but lets assume Goons manage to build them cheap (in the face of already rising demand) and get each POCO for 100mill.  100mill*6,700 planets = 670,000,000,000ISK to invest in POCO’s.  Now I know that Goons are rich, BUT….  yeah.

Ok, so maybe I’m not giving Goons enough credit.  Maybe they pull it off, or more likely decide that they don’t need every planet so long as they get enough to start skewing the markets in their favour.  They have taken hundreds or perhaps more than a thousand planets.  Go Goons!  Job done, their pilots return home to null sec smug in a job well done.

How long will it be do you think before a plethora of high sec based trouble makers start putting their POCO’s into reinforced?  How many of those RF timers do you think Goons will be arsed to turn up to day after day after day?  And what happens once they stop turning up?  Some opportunistic little corp goes and kills one.  Then another.  And puts up their own POCO or sells the chance to someone else. 

Now Goons are faced with a choice.  Do they commit to defending their monopoly and assets, or do they let it erode?  Do they drag pilots back out to high sec to defend and rep POCO’s every night?  Would the membership be motivated to sustain that indefinitely?

And that is I think why it won’t happen.  As tough as it would be to build that POCO empire, keeping it would be even harder.  So no, I don’t buy in to the idea that Goons are going to end up running high sec PI.

What I do think will happen is that we will see smaller cartels springing up to take over systems and perhaps constellations.  We may see a larger push by someone to take control of a certain planet type in a bid to corner the market of a given resource.  Maybe.  It wouldn’t be that unthinkable to take all of the high sec plasma worlds in Caldari space…

But whatever happens, breathe easy.  After a couple months of market turbulence, once the dust settles the CFC will not be ruling the skies over every world in high sec.

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