(Tl;Dr FW has been broken since the beginning; payout history; missions are the leading cause of snowballing and must be rebalanced or have something to take their place, which rewards PvP, before they are removed.)
Ever since major changes that came to us with Inferno (April 24, 2012), Factional Warfare has experienced a divide between PvP content drivers and a substantial portion of the militia which has dedicated its playtime purely to maximize or exploit the income potential of FW objectives (complexes, which still award LP at the base rate as they did in Inferno) and FW missions, which now award a substantially higher amount of LP that is scaled by the tier level that corresponds to each faction. Previously, missions were the sole source of LP in FW, with their payouts being equal to a Major/Medium complex today at tier 2. That is not including the up to 50% bonus you can add with having Security Connections at V that brought it up to a generous 30k for the best of the lvl 4 missions. Times were simpler then. You…
*Did not get LP for defensive plexing with the new LP payouts for completing blue objectives.
*You could no longer spin the button whilst cloaked. (Yep. SB mission runner pre-Inferno FTW.)
*Objectives were now worth 20 Victory Points instead of 100, due to the new station lock-out mechanic. Making it more difficult for an enemy to blitz a system and cause you to lose access to your space stuffs.
*Tier level was rewarded thus:
Tier 1 LP store prices are multiplied by four
Tier 2 LP store prices are multiplied by two; +5% bonus to LP gains
Tier 3 LP store prices are the same as pre-Inferno; +10% bonus to LP gains
Tier 4 LP store prices are twice as cheap as their pre-Inferno numbers; +15% bonus to LP gains
Tier 5 LP store prices are four times as cheap; +20% bonus to LP gains
*Destroying enemy militia ships actually paid the bills, with the killing blow pilot rewarded with the following formula: [Given LP] = ([Market value of target ship] - [Max. Insurance market value] + [Fitted mods, rigs and subsystem market value] + [Transported items market value]) / 10000
That sweet bloody LP was nice while it lasted. Thanks a bunch, Goons.
As things stand today after bits of changes here and everywhere…
*Objective Complex NPC’s have been reduced to one single target that is tanky but does nearly nothing for deeps that, before, would interfere with fights (Crius 2016); Hub bleed was reduced to 10% of the complex payout value, rather than at half rate.
*Defensive Plexing now rewards LP: Defensive plex > LP BASE x (%Contested /100 ) * 0.75
*Minmatar and Caldari missions now have a webbing rat, making them a little less farmable by everyone and their mother, and Gallente mission NPC permajamming has been slightly reduced.
*PvP rewards are so low to be generally considered irrelevant. Seriously, you cannot even do an ammo conversion even as a dedicated solo pvp’er without resorting to smart bombing HG Slave pods.
*Tier reward system as it currently stands:
Tier 1: -50% LP rewards
Tier 2: (no effect)
Tier 3: +75% LP rewards
Tier 4: +150% LP rewards
Tier 5: +225% LP rewards
With this last change, rewards for missions and complexes soared and went over the moon. I’m not even going to try to show you the numbers, as you might stop reading to create a FW mission farming alt! Anyway, another Reddit poster has generously thrown up some very nice instructional videos and he goes through painstaking effort with every wonderful detail. Just for you.
Simply, payout for missions overshadows plex LP by such an astronomical amount to not warrant comparison. In tier 4, you can effectively make easily ten times as much LP than plexing, in a tenth of the time. Anyone who does missions knows this is not an exaggeration. In fact, many mission runners would hesitate from speaking on the subject, as it is regarded like some kind of secret treasure.
An example given would be a comparison to Isk per hour, which can never be accurate as it assumes you will have complexes available back to back without any travel time, PvP encounters, or miscellaneous disruptions. Even if you were to theoretically make it possible to churn Novices non-stop for an hour, it would still equal 150k LP in tier 4. Not chump change by anyone’s definition, but, by comparison to LVL 4 missions which could net twice that amount in the same stretch of time, without requiring the wave of a magic wand to create perfect conditions. Not to mention that you can easily chain LVL 3’s in with your LVL 4’s and increase your total payout by a 5th. Loot the Commander tags after you assassinate? Another Isk bump. The payout is easily 3 times as much, but that is not including the travel time between agents to stack missions before you burn through them, which could take a good half an hour even in a hyperspatial rigged Dram, and assuming you have occupancy in the stations that house the lowsec agents for better results on the set of missions.
Less than a handful of ships can do them all. I can go on about the history of nerfs to missions with webbing rats, but this would require a much longer post. Let’s just say that a bomber was able to do these solo, fairly efficiently and safely enough to where you could bling the torps, BCU’s and prop for best results. After the changes, other ships took their place, but they can be completed with the same amount of efficiency as before. The SP and Isk investment bar was raised.
Now, understanding this, how does missioning affect tier? First, you must understand that, without missions, the whole system is already designed to benefit the losing side. As one faction claims more and more systems, they consequently reduce the amount of systems which could provide them full offensive plexing LP values which are necessary for the donations to maintain high tier, as opposed to the diminishing returns of defensive plexing that varies payouts by the contested levels of the corresponding system. You see that missions completely ignore this natural condition that has the potential to create a checks and balances by always being available and becoming even more desirable than plex warfare when high tier is achieved. It is the ignorance of most Isk-driven pilots that keeps them orbiting a beacon, rather than spamming missions, as the availability of eligible systems for offensive plexing declines and forces sharing. No one usually minds at this point, since it is mostly loyalists at this stage who are committed in a concerted effort to dominate warzone control and care nothing for the pittance of shared LP they receive for payouts split 5 or 10 different ways, sometimes more. This is where snowballing takes form, manifested by the indomitable will of the farmer horde which is recruited to the side that makes their tier the most alluring, effectively recruiting the army of an untiring deplexing machine that allows you to completely focus on the remaining bastions of enemy forces that are still holding on. Without mission LP this would be impossible.
On the other hand, the momentum that so many fear as invincible, is anything but. Back when the Gallente were preparing on our second warzone domination, we had steadily maintained tier 4 only. Meaning, we still did not harness the full potential of the runaway train of tier V until after complete WZ control. We had to constantly form defensive fleets for our highest contested systems and for a full 2 days we were effectively sidelined and shifted entirely to defense. Some of us saw this and feared the pendulum would swing hard against us, so we convinced the corporations to continue full assault on the remaining systems and a dedicated few fought off stubborn offensive plexers that were hitting remote and undefended systems. For the last 3 days of that campaign I myself was stuck in Mantenault and Athounon fighting off linked Russians that had always used these systems for cross-plexing (running the surrounding offensive plexes with their mains and using an alt in the opposing faction to sip the rim of the cup by dplexing mant and alamel when they reached 70% or above). Even though they gamed the system, they still fought constantly during this time in an attempt to bust these systems back, harassing defenders when the odds played in their favor.
But I got sidetracked. The point I’m trying to make is that continued offensive plexing does something to the donated values of LP that are stored in the iHub. These donations determine the level of the system. When an offensive plex is completed 10% of the value of the LP that is payed out for the plex is subtracted or leeched from the donated threshold of that system’s iHub. So, it makes perfect sense to try your best to maintain at least tier 2 as a defending side to maximize the amount of bleed a system takes when offensive plexes are being run and to encourage pilots to form up for tier warfare squadrons that are dedicated to hitting upgraded systems that the enemy depends on to feed the farmers, who invariably want to see tier 4 and above.
Tier 3 you dishearted the slavering farmers; tier 2 your dishearten non-loyalists; at tier 1 you crush every soul that is on the opposite side of you.
Now why would you want to take that kind of satisfaction away? You should not balance payouts against missions by increasing or fixing the amount for completing warzone objectives. When you are down in the low dumps of Tier 1, pilots shouldn’t roll over and die. They should rise up to the challenge and continue fighting, like the Caldari always have, when the weight of victory is on the verge of tearing the outstretched arms of your enemy.
High tier is not easy to maintain. If you continuously knock them down from tier 4 and then tier 3, you have played a hand at sowing the seeds of dissension among your enemy. By keeping an enemy on the verge of an unattainable tier that others lie idle to wait for, while others grow tired to maintain without help.
Why Keep Missions?
I say all this because there are a very large amount of players in FW and out that wish to see missions completely gone. Even though I agree that they have a huge effect on warzone control, as I hope I have made you understand, I also want you to see that they also play a big role as content that remains available for the winning side AND the losing side. We need only bring them into balance. As of this writing, missions have defied balance attempts with the nerfs previously applied. They have done little in keeping them in check. The mission running LP faucet is the largest factor of tier manipulation and concurrent devaluation of LP. Accessibility to missions most definitely varies heavily between the factions, which accounts for the cause of galmil LP maintaining its profitability long-term, as NPC’s in Gallente missions can effectively still shut you down with oppressive ECM. This has been somewhat mitigated by that recent change that came at the same time webbing frigates were introduced into Minmatar and Caldari FW missions as a deterrent to Stealth Bombers cashing in and making the LP rain (the use of alts can somewhat still sidestep the new webbing npc’s). What exactly was changed, I think, was that the cruiser NPC’s that jammed were removed and frigate strength ECM was left in. So now, even with two meta 4 ECCM modules and a full set of Spur’s, we are not so much permajammed, as annoyed; the difficulty of Gallente missions continues to make them difficult, and that goes without mentioning that you would be attempting to run them in one of the most dangerous parts of Eve, where countless pilots find enjoyment in seeking and trapping those who don’t want to be found. This, along with a few other reasons, is why Gallente LP resists the devaluation that other factions inevitably suffer. It is too hard to hit tier V against a fighting enemy. We have more systems which require upgrading in our warzone, 101 in comparison to the 70 of the southern warzone, and that makes hitting high tier, which is a percentage of total possible points, more difficult.
What I propose as a limiter to missions and their affect on warzone control is this: add a restriction to the mission which denies accessing to tech 2 and tech 3 ships. The truth is that every faction can solo them in their respective navy cruisers. I have tried it and it is possible, even for Gallente.
I cannot stress this enough: Do not push for their removal unless CCP has something to take their place that brings back rewards for PvP. My aim is that this change would make them difficult but possible, and rewarding enough to encourage group mission clearing, which can also be done with the current meta of pvp ships with the addition of a few logi. This is a hard nerf, but it keeps them relevant, accessible as available content when things slow down, and requires the least amount of changes necessary for a rebalance.
PvP built around PvE in FW
Ideas on how to restructure Defensive plexing would be appreciated. I have made a separate post concerning changes to the system that force PvE content or modules. I apologize if I come across as rude when I point out that PvE cannot improve PvP in this game. I have only ever once seen it done where it worked and was fun, back in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, with the open RvR scenarios. In Eve PvE, at its best, can only serve as a distraction. At worst, a hindrance, as it was proven with the NPC rat changes that have evolved over time.
Thank you for making it through to the end.