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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #70 - Crucible Winners and Losers

Posted Tue, Nov 22, 2011 by The Mittani

It is an alien feeling to sit down and write about an EVE expansion in a positive way. Not positive in the ‘taking a stand to defend an awkward position’ sense, not positive in a careful, equivocal way, but actually 100% ‘holy crap, this expansion is going to own’ - the sort of unabashed goodwill that borders on being Pollyannaish. Yet what is on SiSi speaks for itself: Crucible is a revolutionary upgrade to the fundamental gameplay of EVE.

Apocrypha

Apocrypha was the last truly ambitious EVE Online expansion.

It seems that the management of CCP, finally aware of their irrational exuberance in pursuing the ‘visions’ of Incarna and Tyrannis, has given CCP Soundwave - the lead designer of Flying in Space - a badge and asked him to save the game. From what we’re seeing on Sisi, Crucible does just that - it pulls EVE away from the precipice, reaffirming the core mantra that ‘Eve is about Spaceships, damn it’ and provides the first serious spaceship content we’ve had since Dominion in 2009. Since Dominion was mostly bad and Incursions, while amusing, was mostly fixes for Tyrannis - we have to go way back to Apocrypha - March 2009 - to find superlatives strewn about with similar enthusiasm.

The Sucking Chest Wounds (tm) of EVE are being addressed at long last. These top issues - lag, supercapital imbalance, hybrid weaponry, and POS Misery are all being attacked with vigor in Crucible. Bitter vets on Failheap are left confused and speechless, with little to say beyond ‘this should have been done years ago’ - true, of course. But these sour grapes are difficult to countenance in the face of Time Dilation, Doomsdays no longer impacting subcapitals, massive buffs to blasters and railguns, and a dramatic reduction in POS timers and the addition of fuel bricks.

In the aftermath of the Incarna disaster, almost all of the employees in Reykjavik and Atlanta have been put on Flying in Space features work. Quite aware that the future of the company is on the line, the devs have put in a massive amount of effort in a short time to create an ‘emergency expansion’, a last-minute course correction to steer CCP away from the iceberg of mass unsubscribing players. Crucible is not an expansion in the traditional sense, though it does add four new battlecruisers; it is a mega-patch, full of crucial tweaks and quality of life improvements. We do not hear players complaining about a lack of a grand narrative for Crucible; the lesson for the management of CCP is that major efforts to polish the existing content in the game are more attractive to customers than impressive-sounding new features that faceplant.

EVE Online

Supercap Fetishists will be one of the biggest losers in Crucible.

But singing uncritical hosannas about Crucible is wearying. Instead of cheerleading CCP for at last doing the right thing - other websites have that covered - let’s examine the winners and losers of Crucible, read the tea leaves, and try to part the hazy mists of the future.

Losers:

*Supercap Fetishists: Doubtlessly the biggest losers in Crucible are those who have based their alliance identity and gameplay around unsupported supercaps dominating everything. For years it’s been difficult to send even a small gang through a region like Syndicate without a cyno opening and supercaps dropping on the humblest handful of battlecruisers. Crucible attacks supercap abuse on a number of fronts. Most significantly, the logoff mechanics have been changed to prevent supercaps from simply disconnecting, secure in the knowledge that only a fleet could take them down before the fifteen minute aggro timer expires and they vanish. In Crucible, a small gang will be able to hold down and keep aggressed a logged-off supercap, making it less likely that supercaps will be dropped on small targets. Doomsdays will now only impact capital ships, and drones are being removed from both Titans and Supercarriers, which underlines the need for supercaps to be used as part of an integrated fleet with subcap support.

*Uncreative Suicide Gankers: As a dedicated hisec ganker, even I thought it silly that one could receive an insurance payout after a suicide gank. Crucible removes this, which makes ganking for profit in larger hulls less viable. Ganking for sport is unaffected.

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