June 18, 2016

BB76: The Field Marshal upon Yonder Hill

BB76 - Why should Eve persist in an Iron Age model for command, rather than moving up a millennia or so to a more Napoleonic model of command.  Let's give our FCs a steed from which they can command from a distance.

Blog Banter 76 asks:

At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let's call it the fleet commander's flagship for now. This is to try and prevent "FC Headshotting" where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha's them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a "flagship" how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?

Eve's Mask of Command

Military history fans will have read "The Mask of Command" by John Keegan.  If not you should add that to the stack by your bedside immediately.  This post is not about that book, but from a small bit that I remember from the decades ago that I read it.  He describes the change in the role of command over the centuries, notably from the warband leader ("Heroic Leader") who is first amongst the charging ranks to the field marshal sitting on a horse on a hill with a telescope ("Anti-Heroic Leader"), and eventually to generals in a city far away getting reports from the front lines ("Post-Heroic Leader").

Our Eve FCs are very much in the first class, with the huge disadvantage that Keegan talks about - they can get killed right in that first charge.  In melee the leader's troops can be inspired to follow and surround their leader to protect them.  Keegan talks about Alexander the Great personally scaling the wall of a city he was seiging, forcing his troops to follow him or he would be lost.  But in Eve as we know the only way to protect an individual is to keep reps on them.  That still leaves them vulnerable to alpha - Eve's equivalent of an arrow or bullet right to the face.

This implies there are two ways to protect an FC.  The one talked about most is making an "alpha-proof" tank of a ship with enough buffer/resists for reps to land.  Perhaps an ultra-Absolution kind of ship, or one with a special module similar to the new Capital Emergency Hull Energisers that also shuts down offensive capability.  Lore wise this could be interesting to build out of the recent Amarr experience with getting alpha'd by Drifters, which of course as with all Eve things would be immediately copied by all factions.

The second way I don't hear people talking about - put the FC in the place of the field marshal watching everything through field glasses.  Keegan's example for this case was Wellington, and as depicted above you can think of this leader as very near the battle but above the scrum.  Carriers already fulfill some of the needs for such a Napoleonic leader, such as the ability to lock targets over extreme ranges.  So is an answer perhaps for this new "Grid Command" ship to be a cruiser hull with super-long lock ranges, a high number of simultaneous targets, EWAR resistance/invulnerability, and probably a good speed and sensor strength.  If your FC is so valuable that you are willing to give up their ability to contribute dps, then why have them in the middle of the scrum anyway?

CCP would still have to worry about abuse of such a ship of course - but that's true of any new ship hull.  it would be cool for some of the ship's new abilities to only exist (or be enhanced) when in fleet command positions - perhaps brain in the box makes this possible. Having such a tie would also reduce abuse since it inherently limits how many people in a fleet could exploit the ship in the inevitable, creative way that Eve players do.

So if CCP Fozzie was to ask my opinion, that's the direction I would point him in.  Eve FCs should move past the Iron Age commander and at least up to the Napoleonic era. :)

Side note - the AIs are taking over the spam

I have moderation turned on after some spam posts.  I had this comment pop up on an old post.  The artificially generated posts (Markov chains or whatever the latest hotness is) are getting good enough that for a brief moment I was really trying to parse it as if it was written by a non-English native speaker.  Unlike usual there was no hyperlink embedded for the advertising - that was done in the "poster's" URL, so you wouldn't see it unless you tried to find out who this poster was.  The second sentence is definitely more successful in picking up from Eve phrases.

"This is very considerably some sort of assurance connected with way as an alternative to whatever massive, in addition to many pleasant keyword phrases including suffering on the excess weight connected with its very own awesomeness. When i recognize of which Empire living space is usually a realistic beginning point having many stuff witout a doubt constantly in place, although I however hope we were looking at wanting to create the concept of this sailing factions to be a beginning point."